Why I Had a Good Tuesday This Week

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:50 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Because yesterday I got to hang out a bit with Alison Moyet, who if you didn’t know is one of my absolute favorite singers, both in Yaz, and with her solo work. We’d become Twitter buddies in the last couple of years and when I mentioned to her Krissy and I would be at her Chicago show she suggested we have a real-life meet. And we did! And it was lovely! And brief, as she had to prepare to entertain a sold-out show (and she did; the concert was excellent), but long enough to confirm that she’s as fabulous in the flesh as she is in her music. Which was not surprising to me, but nice regardless.

(Alison has also blogged about our meet-up as part of her tour journal, which you can find here. Read the entire tour journal, as she’s funny as hell.)

I noted to some friends that I was likely to meet Alison this week and some of them wondered how it would go, on the principle that meeting one’s idols rarely goes as one expects (more bluntly, the saying is “never meet your idols.”) I certainly understand the concept, but I have to say I’ve had pretty good luck meeting people whom I have admired (or whose work I admired). I chalk a lot of that up to the fact that while I was working as a film critic, I met and interviewed literally hundreds of famous people, some of whose work was very important to me. In the experience I got to have the first-hand realization that famous and/or wonderfully creative people are also just people, and have the same range of personalities and quirks as anyone else.

If you remember that when you meet the people whose work or actions you admire, you give them space just to be themselves. And themselves are often lovely. And when they’re not, well, that’s fine too. Alison Moyet, it turns out, is fabulous, and I’m glad we got to meet.

(Which is not to say I didn’t geek out. Oh, my, I did. But I also kept that mostly inside. Krissy found it all amusing.)

Anyway: Great Tuesday. A+++, would Tuesday again.

[syndicated profile] crosscutnews_feed

Posted by Lilly Fowler

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson discusses a lawsuit against GEO Group and its Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma during a press conference in Seattle.  September 20, 2017.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing the private prison company that runs Tacoma’s Northwest Detention Center (NWDC), where hundreds of detainees are held awaiting immigration proceedings.

The lawsuit alleges that GEO Group, Inc., the second-largest private prison provider in the country, has for years violated Washington State’s minimum wage law, paying its workers $1 per day or in some instances, with snacks and extra food.

At a press conference in downtown Seattle on Wednesday, Ferguson noted that the state’s minimum wage law requires that workers be paid at least $11 an hour.

“Let’s be honest about what’s going on,” Ferguson said. “GEO has a captive population of vulnerable individuals who cannot easily advocate for themselves. This corporation is exploiting those workers for their own profits.”

Ferguson explained that the state minimum wage law is clear: Only inmates who reside in, say, a state, county, or municipal detention center would be exempted from earning the minimum wage.

“In contrast with a jail or prison, which houses people involved in the criminal justice system and are operated by state or local governments, detainees at NWDC are held in a private, for-profit facility pending civil immigration proceedings,” reads a press release.

In a statement, GEO said it “strongly refutes the baseless and meritless allegations made in this lawsuit.” The company argued “the minimum wage rates and standards associated with the program,” which it referred to as a volunteer worker program, “are set exclusively by the federal government.”

In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 17, 2008, detainees are shown resting on bunks inside the "B" cell and bunk unit of the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash. The facility is operated by The GEO Group Inc. under contract from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and houses people whose immigration status is in question or who are waiting for deportation or deportation hearings.
In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 17, 2008, detainees are shown resting on bunks inside the “B” cell and bunk unit of the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash.

Ferguson said many of the detainees at the detention center are being held for minor infractions, such as traffic violations; the work they perform include cleaning, laundry and serving food.

Although the work is performed on a so-called volunteer basis, Ferguson said many of the detainees feel compelled to participate. If no one volunteers, “guards will sometimes pick detainees to perform the work,” attorneys said in a press release.

According to Ferguson and other Washington attorneys, GEO Group has run the Northwest Detention Center, the fourth largest immigration detention center in the country, since 2005.

Attorneys also say that GEO, a company based in Florida, has been working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement since the 1980s. In 2015, ICE renewed GEO’s contract for the detention center through 2025. The company projected the detention center would bring $57 million in revenue every year if operated at full capacity.

GEO Group runs more than 100 correctional and detention facilities in the country and has faced a variety of lawsuits, including a class-action lawsuit by current and former detainees at a Colorado facility, which alleges forced labor.

Detainees in Tacoma have for years protested the living conditions at the center by participating in numerous hunger strikes.

Ferguson said he expects GEO to pay back the millions in profits it’s earned “off the backs of exploited workers.”

“GEO has to follow the law,” Ferguson said. “And that’s not happening here.”

This Week in Nazi-Punching

Sep. 20th, 2017 08:15 pm
[syndicated profile] jim_hines_feed

Posted by Jim C. Hines

A video of a Nazi in Seattle getting punched and knocked out has been making the rounds. Responses range from satisfaction and celebration to the predictable cries of “So much for the tolerant left” and the related “Violence makes us as bad as them and plays right into their hands.”

A few things to consider…

1. According to one witness, the punch happened after the Nazi called a man an “ape” and threw a banana at him. With the disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer, that sounds like assault to me. I’m guessing Assault in the Fourth Degree. In other words, the punching was a response to an assault by the Nazi.

The witness who talks about the banana-throwing also says he was high on THC. I haven’t seen anyone disputing his account, but I haven’t seen corroboration, either.

2.Remember when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and people like Geraldo Rivera said it was because Martin was wearing a hoodie, and that made Martin a potentially dangerous “suspicious character”? Utter bullshit, I know. But if our legal system let Zimmerman plead self-defense, saying he was afraid because Martin was wearing a hoodie, doesn’t that same argument apply against someone wearing a fucking swastika?

We’re talking about a symbol that announces, “I support genocide of those who aren’t white, aren’t straight, aren’t able-bodied…”

3. Buzzfeed presents this as anti-fascists tracking a Neo-Nazi to beat him up. While antifa Twitter appears to have been talking about this guy, there’s no evidence that the punch was thrown by someone who’s part of that movement. And even if he was, the guy didn’t throw a punch until after the Nazi committed assault (see point #1).

Those Tweets quoted on Buzzfeed also suggest the Nazi was armed, which could add to the self-defense argument in point #2.

Is Nazi-punching right? Is it legal? As any role-player will tell you, there’s a difference between whether something is lawful and whether it’s good.

The “victim” has every right to press charges. But for some reason, he didn’t want to talk to police about the incident.

Was punching this guy a good thing? I mean, there’s a difference between comic books and real life. The Nazi was standing in front of some sort of tile wall. He could have struck his head on the corner after being punched, or when he fell to the ground. In other words, there’s a chance–albeit probably a slim one–that this could have killed him.

My country and culture glorify violence. I’d much rather avoid violence when possible. I think most rational people would. But there are times it’s necessary to fight, to choose to defend yourself and others. I think it’s important to understand the potential consequences of that choice.

Multiple accounts agree this man was harassing people on the bus, and later on the street. He was a self-proclaimed Nazi. Police say they received calls that he was instigating fights, and it sounds like he escalated from verbal harassment to physical assault … at which point another man put him down, halting any further escalation.

I don’t know exactly what I would have done in that situation, but I see nothing to make me condemn or second-guess this man’s choice in the face of a dangerous Nazi.

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Posted by Cliff Mass

I am now entirely confident in this. We are going to break a major record in two days:

The driest summer in the history of observations at Seattle-Tacoma Airport.

And we are not simply going to beat the record, we are going to smash it.

Let me give you the numbers.   Logan Johnson, head of the NWS forecast office in Seattle, provided these number for the driest calendar summers (roughly June 21st-Sept 21st) at Seattle-Tacoma Airport:

1988 1.28"
1987 1.33"
2000 1.36"
1990 1.39"

Seattle-Tacoma Airport records go back to 1945-- so over 70 years!

As of noon today (Wednesday June 20th), Seattle-Tacoma Airport has received only .50 inches of rain. LESS THAN HALF of the previous summer record.  And most of the rain is over for a while.

According to the latest forecast model runs, it is possible that we could get a few sprinkles today, but nothing of any significance.   Here is the latest NWS SREF (short-range ensemble forecast) that show the cumulative precipitation prediction at Sea-Tac for a number of model runs starting 5 AM this morning.  No model run provides enough to threaten our record (most produce a few hundredths of an inch).

Folks--we have this in the bag....the driest calendar summer in Sea-Tac Airport history.  

Here is a plot of the observed (purple) and normal (blue line) precipitation at Sea-Tac.  We are about 3 inches behind for the summer!
Another way of appreciating our dry conditions is the following figure, showing the percent of average precipitation since June 21st.  Most of Washington State is below 25%, with some below 5% of normal.

Why have we have been so warm and dry this summer?  The same reason the eastern U.S. has been cool and wet:  an anomalous upper level wave pattern, with high pressure over the west and low pressure over the east.   This is illustrated by the upper level height anomalies (difference from normal) for 500 hPa (about 18,000 ft) for the past 90 days.
The yellow/orange colors indicate higher than normal pressures/heights. Blue the opposite.

Some folks will get upset with me for saying this, but there is no reason to believe that such a pattern has anything to do with global warming.

"HTML email, was that your fault?"

Sep. 20th, 2017 07:24 pm
[syndicated profile] jwz_blog_feed

Posted by jwz

tl;dr: "Probably".

Just for the record, when this Unfrozen Caveman bitches about the horrors of the world, it is not without recognition of my culpability.

Montulli and Weissman also deserve a portion of the blame, but I was the one who ran with it, so I'm sure they'd be happy to let me fall on that sword.

{You're|I'm} {welcome|sorry}.

Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2011 20:01:22 -0700
From: Jamie Zawinski <jwz@jwz.org>
Subject: Re: HTML e-mail: is it your fault?
Mime-Version: 1.0 (Apple Message framework v1084)
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.1084)

Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2011 14:45:13 -0700
From: Andrew Gray <adsgray@...>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-08-17)


I'm trying to figure out when HTML e-mails were first sent. Do you happen to know if the Netscape Mail and News clients that you worked on were the first MUAs to render HTML?

This question is in the context of struggling to craft an HTML e-mail that looks "good" in every possible stupid mail program that anyone could possibly still be using in the year 2011.

You know, my gut reaction is that the answer to this question is "no", but after some digging, I have yet to find any evidence of a mail reader that can display inline HTML messages (email or USENET) that predates Netscape 2.0!

So, maybe?

If you find out for sure, please let me know!

I think there may have been closed systems inside Compuserve and Outlook that supported rich text messages (in formats other than HTML).

The Andrew Message System at CMU and MIT supported WYSIWYG rich messages, including inline images and audio attachments, as early as 1985. Not HTML or MIME, but a predecessor to MIME, as the architect of that was Nathaniel Borenstein who wrote the first MIME RFC.

My other project is a time machine of course. First application: preventing HTML e-mail from ever happening.

Yeah, go back to chipping your USENET posts out with a piece of flint, why don't you.

Even if it wasn't the first, Netscape Mail was probably the first mail reader that put the ability to easily *view* HTML messages in front of more than a million users.

I know that Eudora 4 supported display of HTML email, and possibly composition of it, but I'm not sure when that was released.

Qualcomm/Eudora spent a while trying to push text/enriched (RFC 1523, published late 1993 -- not sure when Eudora first supported it) as an alternative to HTML, but that went nowhere. Early versions of Netscape (at least 1.1, I think possibly earlier) supported display of text/enriched, but just about nobody was even aware of that because nobody ever used it.

We also supported display of text/richtext, which was an HTML-like SGML dialect with only a few tags. In 2.0b1 or possibly earlier. I added that just to placate the peanut gallery, not because I expected anyone to actually use it.

I think the only person who really used text/enriched was Brad Templeton through ClariNet, where you could subscribe to USENET newsgroups of the UPI/AP feeds that were formatted with it.

From Mosaic Netscape 0.9 through Netscape Navigator 1.1 (1994), there was a mail composition window which allowed one to attach external URLs. They were attached as MIME multipart/mixed attachments with proper Content-Type and Content-Transfer-Encoding (using quoted-printable to ensure short lines).

You could also "attach" things with "Include Document Text" which would suck them in as plain-text with ">" at the beginning of each line, wrapped at 72 columns.

There was also a USENET news reader and composer built-in. The USENET reader's display of MIME documents was remedial at best. The composition tool only allowed plain-text. Version 0.9 displayed any part of a message between <HTML> and </HTML> as such, even if there was no Content-Type header. That was removed some time before 2.0. Back then, you couldn't actually rely on a Content-Type header propagating through multiple USENET hops -- bnews would strip out any headers it didn't know about!

(Remember that 1.1's big innovation was *tables*. 1.0 didn't have 'em!)

2.0 contained the mail reader, with full MIME support (which was also a news reader, replacing the minimalist one that 1.0 had). So that showed up in 1.22b or so, mid 1995, I guess?

I believe 3.0 was the first version with WYSIWYG HTML composition, early 1996. To accomplish that in 2.0, you had to attach an HTML file. If there was only one attachment, it was sent as the single MIME part.

Forwarded messages were attachments of type message/rfc822 and included full headers, which were hidden upon inline display. Nobody does that any more because now the world sucks.

There was the IETF MHTML working group as early as 1995. I can't find a working archive of the mailing list, but it was run by a fellow named Jacob Palme -- http://people.dsv.su.se/~jpalme/ietf/jp-ietf-home.html

Microsoft Outlook Express shipped in 2005 and did not support HTML, but later versions (2006? Maybe 2008?) posted HTML *by default* to both mail and news. This angered many. Outlook Express is also where the blight of top-posting originated, those monsters.

Here, this may be helpful too: http://web.archive.org/web/19990128073742/http%3A//www.cis.ohio-state.edu/hypertext/faq/usenet/mail/mime-faq/part2/faq.html

Also this: http://segate.sunet.se/cgi-bin/wa?A3=ind9606&L=MHTML&E=7bit&P=124821&B=--------------2F1C7DE14487&T=text%2Fhtml;%20charset=us-ascii

It would be fantastic if you could update http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML_email with your findings.

DNA Lounge - 375 Eleventh Street, SF CA 94103 - 415-626-1409

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

And Then There Were Five...

Sep. 20th, 2017 05:39 pm
[syndicated profile] not_a_blog_feed
... GAME OF THRONES successor shows, that is.

Truth be told, we've had five scripts in various stages of development for months. Which I believe I mentioned...

But now at last all the deals are signed, and it can be told. BRYAN COGMAN has come on board to pen the fifth of the successor shows. James Hibberd broke the news on ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.


Bryan Cogman should need no introduction for any GAME OF THRONES fan. He's been part of the show since the beginning... since before the beginning, actually, since he was first hired as assistant to David Benioff and D.B Weiss way before the series got on the air, before even the pilot had been filmed. From those humble beginnings, he advanced to staff writer, to story editor, to co-producer and producer and supervising producer. Less formally, he has also been GOT's "Keeper of the Lore," the guy who knew the canon better than anyone (except me, though sometimes I am not even sure of that). He's written more episodes of GAME OF THRONES than anyone but Dan & David... including some of our very best ones. If D&D have been the kings of Westeros for these past seven seasons, Bryan Cogman has surely been the Prince of Dragonstone.

I'd love to tell you more about the series Bryan will be working on... but we haven't done that for the other four successor shows, so we shouldn't for this one either. All in good time.

I can say that, like the other pilots, it will be a prequel rather than sequel, a successor rather than a spinoff. Bryan's series will be an adaptation, and one that will thrill most fans of the books, I think, set during a very exciting period of Westerosi history. And I'll be working with him every step of the way; we're going to be co-creating the show.

Meanwhile, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, Max Borenstein, and Carly Wray are all at work on the other four successor shows. I've been working with them as well (some more closely than others), and I'm excited by some of the ideas they're coming up with. HBO should have a wealth of material to choose from. (And that's not even counting the four weird-ass series concepts I've come up on my own, just for the hell of it. There are eight million stories in the naked city, and maybe ten times as many in Westeros and the lands beyond the narrow seas).

You should not expect to see all five shows, though, at least not immediately.. much as I might love the idea, HBO is not about to become the GAME OF THRONES network... but we could possibly see two or even three make it to the pilot stage, with one series emerging on air in 2019 or 2020... and the others maybe later, if they come out as well as we all hope. Then again, maybe... but I should not speculate, you folks get WAY too excited. Truth is, no one knows. Least of all me.

For now, suffice it to say that Bryan Cogman has signed on, and we're thrilled.

[syndicated profile] autostraddle_feed

Posted by Casey

Autostraddle Bi+ Week 2017 Books CollageWhether you’re looking for powerful personal bisexual narratives, insightful political analysis of bisexual issues, or information to help understand bisexuality (yours or someone else's), there are books in here you don’t want to miss!
[syndicated profile] autostraddle_feed

Posted by Carmen Phillips

When I look at this list, I’m fortified knowing that increasingly we are not being asked to choose between our blackness and our queerness as the movement moves forward. We are no longer being asked to do the work, but keep our faces in the shadows.

Emmy Winners

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:17 pm
[syndicated profile] not_a_blog_feed
Congratulations to all the winners of this year's Emmy Awards. And especially to my friends at HBO, which once again led all other networks in number of nominations and number of victories.

It was a great show this year, I thought. Yes, even without GAME OF THRONES. Stephen Colbert made a terrific host. I especially enjoyed his opening number.

A strong lineup of nominees this year gave us some great winners... though, as always, that also means some equally deserving finalists wound up as losers. WESTWORLD especially was robbed, as was STRANGER THINGS. But it IS an honor just to be nominated, and the time will come for both of those shows, as it finally did for GAME OF THRONES. The big winners this year were Hulu's HANDMAID'S TALE (adapted from the novel by Margaret Atwood) and HBO's BIG LITTLE LIES (adapted from the novel by Liane Moriarity). ((Notice the common denominator there? BOOKS! Do a faithful adapatation of a great book, and you can't go wrong)). I was also pleased to see BLACK MIRROR get some love, especially for its brilliant "San Junipero" episode.

GAME OF THRONES, of course, was not eligible this year, having shifted from April to August. Which meant that, for the first time in seven years, I was not actually at the awards in LA. Instead Parris and I watched from home. It felt kind of strange not to be there, truth be told. Not bad, just strange. It was actually sort of relaxing. The Emmy weekend can be very exciting, but it is also exhausting, even the parties... the heat, the crowds, the noise. The red carpet seems to get longer (and hotter) every year. Maybe that's an ordeal that should be left for the younger and more photogenic members of our television community.

Will I be back next year, or the year after, or the year after that? Time will tell. Emmy is a fickle goddess who bestows her kisses where she will. But either way, I'm good.

((Comments on the Emmys welcome. Off topic comments will be deleted)).

The Big Idea: Fran Wilde

Sep. 20th, 2017 12:42 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Today, award-winning author Fran Wilde has a shocking confession to make! About something she said! Here! And yes, it involves her new novel, Horizon. What will this confession be? Will there be regret involved? Are you prepared for what happens next?!?


Dear readers of John Scalzi’s blog, for the past three years, I’ve been keeping secrets.

I’m not sorry.

Trilogies are a delicate thing. They are a community of books unto themselves. They inform and support one another; their themes and actions ripple and impact one another. They have their own set of rules. Among them: Write down the main character’s eye color or favorite food so you don’t forget it. You’ll regret using that hard-to-spell naming convention by the middle of your second book. Destroy something in book one, you’re not going to magically have it to rely on in book three — at least not without some major effort. Everything gathers — each choice, each voice.

Trilogies are, by intent, more than the sum of their parts.

And, when brought together, a trilogy’s largest ideas sometimes appear in the gathered shadows of what seemed like big ideas at the time.

In Updraft, book one of the Bone Universe trilogy, what began to crumble was the system that upheld the community of the bone towers. It didn’t look like it then. So I didn’t tell you when I wrote my first Big Idea.

Instead, the first time I visited this blog, I wrote: “At its heart, Updraft is about speaking and being heard and — in turn — about hearing others…”

That was true – especially in the ways Updraft explored song as memory and singing and voice. But it was also kind of a fib. I knew where the series was headed, and voice was only the tip of the spear.

I planned to return here a year later to write about leadership, and I did — and, I wrote about demagoguery too, and abut having a book come out during a charged political season. That was September 2016, Cloudbound, the second book in the series was just out, and wow, that post seems somewhat innocent and naive now. But not any less important.

Again, saying the big idea in Cloudbound was leadership was true on its face, but it was also a an act of omission. And again, singing came into play — in that songs in Cloudbound were being adjusted and changed, as were messages between leaders.

With Horizon, I’m going to lay it all out there for you. Horizon is about community.

Structurally, Horizon is narrated by several different first person voices — including Kirit, Nat, and Macal, a magister and the brother of a missing Singer. These three voices come from different places in the Bone Universe’s geography, and they weave together to form a greater picture of the world, and its threats. A fourth voice appears only through a song — a new song — that is written during the course of Horizon, primarily by one character but with the help of their community. That song is the thread that ties the voices together, and, one hopes, the new community as well.

And, like Horizon, for me, the big idea for the Bone Universe series is also community. How to defend one, how to lead one, how to salvage as much as you can of one and move forward towards rebuilding it.

In my defense, I did leave some clues along the way. I shifted narrators between Updraft and Cloudbound in order to broaden the point of view and reveal more about the lead characters and the world, both between the books (how Nat and Kirit are seen each by the other vs. how they see themselves), and within them. I shared with readers the history of the bone towers and how that community, and the towers themselves, formed. I showed you the community’s [something] – that their means of keeping records and remembering was based on systems that could be used to both control messages and redefine them. I made the names of older laws and towers much more complicated to pronounce (and, yes, spell SIGH), versus the simpler names for newer things. This community had come together, then grown into something new.

The evolution of singing in the Bone Universe is, much like the idea of community, something that can be seen in pieces, but that resolves more when looked at from the perspective of all three books together.

Remember that solo voice — Kirit’s — singing quite badly that first book? In the second book, Nat’s voice joins Kirit’s — a solo, again, but because we can still hear Kirit, and because we know her, it becomes a kind of duet. In the third book, three voices present separate parts of the story, and when they all come together, that forms a connected whole.

When you listen to a group of people sing, sometimes one voice stands out, then another. Then, when multiple voices join in for the chorus, the sound becomes a different kind of voice. One with additional depth and resonance.

That’s the voice of a community. That drawing together of a group into something that is more than the sum of its parts. It is an opportunity, a way forward, out of a crumbling system and into something new and better.  

That’s the big idea.


Horizon: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.

[syndicated profile] crosscutnews_feed

Posted by Knute Berger

A display at Ellis Island, where some 12 million immigrants arrived from 1892 to 1924. It's now part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

On a recent TV interview, Steve Bannon, former White House adviser and representative of the Force’s dark side, disputed the notion that America was a nation built by immigrants.

During a “60 Minutes” segment with Charlie Rose, Bannon insisted that America was “built on our citizens,” not immigrants. When Rose said, “We are all immigrants,” save for Native Americans, Bannon dismissed that idea as a “leftist” notion.

Bannon’s claim is like a butterfly denying it was ever a caterpillar.

At root, the vast majority of us in America come from immigrant stock, Bannon and his 19th century Irish refugee ancestors included. But the 21st century Know Nothings want us to delete that memory from our personal and collective hard-drives.

Fortunately, that idea is being resisted. At the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, the finishing touches are being put on a new permanent exhibit, four years in the making, on Washington’s immigrants and migrants. I recently got a brief sneak pre-preview preview of “Washington My Home,” scheduled to open this fall. A large exhibit space features a floor-to-ceiling, backlit photo gallery, using images from historic and contemporary portraits, of the state’s immigrants and migrants.

The exhibits talk about the struggles and prejudice people have faced, contains the stories of family origins — including Native American histories — and features interactive displays that encourage visitors to think about where they came from and what life in Washington means to them.

There’s a display of original shoes of various immigrant groups, a moving exhibit that urges us to walk in other people’s shoes, metaphorically if not literally. This is a message lost on many people today, whether Bannonites or Internet trolls or enthusiastic participants in today’s “call out” culture” so ready to shame others. Our histories are complex, diverse, and putting yourself in another’s place can be rehumanizing not dehumanizing. The backlit photo gallery in the museum has the subtle effect of stained glass church windows. Our diversity of origins and journeys can also be a glory to behold, from the determination of African American pioneers to the wheat-farming Volga Germans, to the brave endurance of the Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II.

Migrants and immigrants are “us.” You might be a seventh generation American-born citizen, but don’t forget where you came from, or the contributions everyone has made and continues to make.

It caused me to reflect on my own background, and how immigration has both been a source of pride and a kind of gentle shame.

Having the name Knute embarrassed me as a child. My nickname was “Skip,” but I yearned to have what I thought of as a regular name, because “Knute” was so ethnic. Why couldn’t I have been Tom or Bill?

My paternal grandfather was a Norwegian immigrant who came here around 1910, my grandmother a Scottish immigrant who came, via Canada, in 1914 after they met and married in Vancouver, British Columbia.

They were poor. They met on a wealthy timber baron’s yacht where granny was a maid and my grandfather — Bestafar, Norwegian for grandpa —worked in the engine room. He became a very successful mechanical engineer, the classic immigrant story of working one’s way up by being an innovative entrepreneur. He invented and manufactured logging and marine equipment — winches and fairleads — and held a number of patents for hauling things like anchors and timber.

During World War II, his gear was adopted by the U.S. Navy for use on landing craft to help make amphibious landings like D-Day successful. If that wasn’t helping to build America, I’m not sure what is.

In the 1940s, my grandfather was voted into the Rainier Club, a proud achievement, a sign to him that he had reached the pinnacle of success. I’ve seen his original club application where his sponsor described him as “sober and industrious. Speaks English without marked accent.”

The author's immigrant grandfather: Enjoying his role in building America. Credit: Courtesy of Berger Family
The author’s immigrant grandfather: Enjoying his role in building America. Credit: Courtesy of Berger Family

He was proud of his Scandinavian heritage — I was in my teens before I learned that uffda was not an English word. When I was little I assumed that May 17, Norwegian Independence Day, was an American holiday. But he also wanted to belong to the mainstream of Seattle business and social life. Remembering your roots and being an American are not mutually exclusive, and for many people an essential ingredient to their ambition.

As the grandchild of immigrants, I am an immigrant too. Just check my genes. While I’m proud to call myself a Northwest native — someone who was born here — I understand that immigration and migration are literally in my DNA. According to the genetic testing site 23andMe, I am less Norwegian than I thought I was, but I am 99.9 percent European: My genes are those of immigrants.

I have passed them on to ever more complex variations in the coming generations. My immigrant genes, for better or worse, are alive and transforming America as we speak. My kids and grandkids are immigrants too.

Immigration’s central role in American life is no leftist conspiracy. It’s a cultural, historical and biological fact.

Steve Bannon’s America is fiction.

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Posted by Alec Connon

Fracking has helped expand oil and gas production in Wyoming.

The Puyallup tribe has filed a lawsuit against Puget Sound Energy to stop a $275 million LNG facility in Tacoma. They argue that the LNG facility would breach their fishing rights as guaranteed by the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854, negatively impact the health of their communities and pose a significant public safety threat to a densely populated urban area.

The Puyallup are far from alone in their opposition to LNG: The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians unanimously passed a resolution in opposition to the siting of LNG facilities in or near tribal lands and major population centers. And grassroots groups have been holding frequent protests at the site of the construction, including one last month in which almost, nearly 100 protesters sat in front of bulldozers in order to prevent pipeline from being laid. Yet, even as the Puyallup sue to stop the project, PSE, an Australian-owned corporation, continues laying pipeline on Puyallup land, indicating that when it comes to environmental racism the gas industry is as culpable as the rest of the fossil fuel industry. Tomorrow, there will be a regionally coordinated action that will see protesters visit at least 12 Puget Sound Energy offices across Washington.

Stating their opposition to the project, Puyallup tribal Chair Bill Sterud has complained, “The Puyallup Tribe has received complete disregard of the consultation obligations … when attempting to address the Tacoma LNG plant and its associated pipelines proposed to be constructed within and adjacent to the Puyallup Reservation in Washington.” It is a disregard in the consultation process that has echoes of Standing Rock. Puyallup tribal Councilmember David Bean has pointed out that if there was an explosion at the facility, I-5 would be within the blast zone. The fear of an explosion is not a difficult one to understand; it is less than two years since Seattle witnessed a gas explosion that damaged much of the heart of Greenwood.

As all this goes on, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have teamed up to write an omnibus energy bill, the Energy and Natural Resources Act 2017. The bill would do some good things: it would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the country’s most successful conservation program; it would provide support for state and local governments efforts on energy efficiency and for further research development of alternative energy technologies. Nevertheless, the Energy and Natural Resources Act 2017 would be a disaster for our ability to curtail climate change — and our ability to stop projects like the Tacoma LNG.

Over 350 green groups — including 350.org, Food and Water Watch, and Friends of the Earth — have signed on to a letter expressing explicit opposition to the bill. Bill McKibben has described it as “a shameless giveaway to the polluting oil and gas industry.” Sen. Bernie Sanders has complained that the bill will “make us more more reliant on fracking for natural gas for decades to come.”

The main reason for the concerted opposition to the bill is that the Energy and Natural Resources Act 2017 would facilitate the expansion of the gas industry — in Murkowski’s summary of the bill she states that it will “streamline pipeline permitting, facilitate LNG exports” — and gas is an absolute disaster for our climate. A crucial fact that Sen. Cantwell seems to be having a very hard time accepting.

Yes, as executives from the gas industry are fond of pointing out, it is true that, when burned in a new, efficient power plant, gas emits 50 to 60 percent less carbon dioxide than a typical new coal plant. But that is only part of the story. Gas production leaks huge amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that, over a 20-year period, is up to 86 times more potent in creating global warming than carbon dioxide. This is not a side point. This is the whole story when it comes to gas: Countless studies, including from the National Academy of Sciences, have found that the methane from fracking virtually eliminates any beneficial impacts of gas production, causing the Union of Concerned Scientists and others to state that if the U.S. electricity grid transitions from its reliance on coal for power production to using mostly natural gas, there would be virtually no reduction in emissions as a result.

Even more concerning, most of these studies only look at methane leakage at the source of extraction: natural gas also leaks when distributed. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration reports 45 incidents within New Jersey’s natural-gas distribution network alone over the last 20 years — five of which were deadly. In Boston, several studies have found high concentrations of methane in the atmosphere as a result of natural gas, posing a threat to human health and contributing to climate change.

Besides climate change, there are huge concerns around the air and water pollution caused by the gas industry: water contamination from fracking has been documented in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Mexico to name just a few. Others have found that gas development can affect local and regional air quality, including resulting in an increase in pollutants known to cause “respiratory symptoms, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.”

Air pollution, water pollution, climate change, environmental racism: These are the defining qualities of the gas industry. And it is with these concerns on their mind that a dozen organizations recently called upon Sen. Cantwell to host a town hall to answer questions about the Energy and Natural Resources Act 2017.

With top climate scientists telling us we have but three years in which to dramatically reduce our emissions, we must end fossil fuel use as soon as we possibly can. That’s a goal that assuredly will not be met by a bipartisan energy bills that further enables gas infrastructure.

Sen. Cantwell should discuss with her constituents their fears that the bill she is championing will create even more LNG fights in Washington state, and beyond.

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Posted by Stephen Hegg

Quinton Morris with Samira Rodol (viola) and Fernanda Campos (violin).

This story originally appeared on KCTS9.org.

“Do you brush your teeth every day?” Quinton Morris asks four students in a small Maple Valley studio. “You’re teenagers,” he teases as eyes roll, “some of you probably don’t.”

“Playing with the metronome is like brushing your teeth,” he says.

Morris isn’t teaching high school health. He’s teaching beginning violin. And he’s drilling the basics — scales, hand placement, finger position and playing with a metronome every day.

The violin is a notoriously difficult instrument to play well and — for beginners — there are many sour notes and crooked bows.

“You need a lot of practice to become good at it,” says student Brian Nguyen.

Many beginners start in public school string classes. But often the best learning takes place with a private teacher, who can zero in on strengths and weaknesses and hone potential early on. But not all students can afford private lessons.

Cue Quinton Morris, associate professor and director of chamber and instrumental music at Seattle University.

“There is this kind of negative connotation that you only take private lessons if you have a lot of money, if you are privileged to have two parents in the household, if you are white or if you have really good grades,” Morris says.

Morris has set up studios in South King County through the nonprofit organization Key To Change, offering low-cost private or small-group violin instruction and financial aid to budding musicians.

“He wants to deposit back into young people the kind of investment he received,” says Vivian Phillips, Seattle Arts Commission chair. “He was educated, to a large part, in South King County, so he’s going back to his roots.”

Morris is an advocate for public school music teachers, and sees his efforts as bolstering beleaguered arts and music programs.

“It’s not uncommon for an orchestra teacher to have between 40 to 60 students in their orchestra classes with no assistant, no aides or help, and that’s what I hope the Key to Change studio can do — provide lessons for those students in the orchestra teachers’ classrooms.”

Not that Morris needs more on his plate. In addition to teaching duties at Seattle University, he lectures and performs all over the world. He is a frequent collaborator with arts and civic groups. He’s also the director/producer of Breakthrough, a film about Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the 18th-century violinist and first-known classical composer of African ancestry. Morris played Saint-Georges in the film, traveling to five continents for film-screenings and to perform Saint-Georges’s music in live settings.

Today, as one of very few African American violin professors in the United States, Morris believes that representation is crucial.

“When I got to high school, I was the only African-American violinist, not only in my school orchestra, but also in the youth symphony program here in Seattle.”

He hopes to reach young African Americans and other students of color who may feel shut out of classical music’s traditionally European and white culture.

The Breakthrough project and Saint-Georges, long-studied by Morris, is an opportunity to show students that black artists and musicians, although underrepresented, have been part of the classical tradition throughout history.

Above all, Morris believes that the discipline learned through mastering an instrument offers invaluable life lessons for young students.

“It boosts their self -confidence, their self-esteem, it provides them with critical thinking skills,” he says. “You’re learning all of those key qualities that a successful adult on this planet needs to have.”

September 2017

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