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Dear Brenda: I have started writing again after the great silencing that was the election and the installation of that person and all those who stand behind him and his supremacist notions. Now I am carrying a very small, very cheap, very inconsequential notebook, and sometimes I write things in it. It feels like something, and it also feels like nothing. Like all those calls I keep making to my senators and representatives.

Here is a photo of the little gifts you sent Callie Violet. They are leaning against a start from one of my African violets. All of the violets have done so well in our living room that they outgrew their pots. I’ve had to give them new homes. They’re struggling now. But they are hanging on.

My whole life feels like a metaphor these days.

All love,

Camille

From “Notes from the lower level” by Camille Dungy in The Guernica. 

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Conservatives who reject feminist theory nonetheless understand exactly what feminist theorists of gender construction have been saying: not simply that gender is constructed, but that gender is an apparatus of power and disempowerment. How could it land with such a thud on the life of James Comey who, as head of the FBI, sure seemed like the most secure wielder of power, not its sufferer? This is not just a story of the once-mighty brought low, but of the mechanisms of feminization by which Donald Trump and his allies tend to seek people’s compliance or arrange to bring them down.

That Trump seeks to diminish or humiliate those around him is no secret. That such abjection often takes the form of “feminization” is also widely known. Recall Chris Christie’s account of a dinner with Trump:

He says, ‘There’s the menu, you guys order whatever you want,” and then he says, “Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.”

Why didn’t Christie stand up for himself? Order the steak? Demand to be one of the “guys”? Declare himself unsuited to the role of wife in some 1950’s supper club scene?

From “He Said, He Said: The Feminization of James Comey” in the Boston Review by Bonnie Honig.

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This, “Coalition accused of vilification after releasing list of ‘bludger hotspots’ in The Guardian..

The Coalition has been accused of “heartless vilification” for releasing a list of welfare “bludger hotspots” across Australia.

The federal government on Tuesday released a list of 10 suburbs and towns with the highest jobseeker non-compliance numbers.

The list, which News Corp dubbed a “list of shame”, referred to the number of welfare recipients who failed to meet requirements, usually by failing to attend appointments or interviews with job service providers.

.. begs the question what has government done in these areas lately?

What’s the social mobility rate for families in these suburbs? Has it shifted since you came to power? What’s the local job creation rate? I mean, if jobseekers meet their requirements, what’s their chance of actually obtaining a job with a living wage in their local area? How do their wage rates compare with those in more prosperous suburbs? Their children’s access to elite schools? The provision of infrastructure? The number of children in out of home care?

More score cards.

Boggles the mind that government could think they’re somehow excused of responsibility for economic management.

 

 

 

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Autumn. Somewhere over Michigan, a colony of monarch butterflies, numbering more than fifteen thousand, are beginning their yearly migration south. In the span of two months, from September to November, they will move, one wing beat at a time, from southern Canada and the United Sates to portions of central Mexico, where they will spend the winter.

They perch among us, on chain-link fences, clotheslines still blurred from the just-hung weight of clothes, windowsills, the hood of a faded-blue Chevy, their wings folding slowly, as if being put away, before snapping once, into flight.

It only takes a single night of frost to kill off an entire generation. To live, then, is a matter of time, of timing.

I am writing because they told me to never start a sentence with because. But I wasn’t trying to make a sentence—I was trying to break free.

From Ocean Vuong’s “A letter to my mother that she will never read” in The New Yorker. 

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Some use their power to silence that and live in the void of their own increasingly deteriorating, off-course sense of self and meaning. It’s like going mad on a desert island, only with sycophants and room service. It’s like having a compliant compass that agrees north is whatever you want it to be. The tyrant of a family, the tyrant of a little business or a huge enterprise, the tyrant of a nation. Power corrupts, and absolute power often corrupts the awareness of those who possess it. Or reduces it: narcissists, sociopaths, and egomaniacs are people for whom others don’t exist.

We gain awareness of ourselves and others from setbacks and difficulties; we get used to a world that is not always about us; and those who do not have to cope with that are brittle, weak, unable to endure contradiction, convinced of the necessity of always having one’s own way. The rich kids I met in college were flailing as though they wanted to find walls around them, leapt as though they wanted there to be gravity and to hit ground, even bottom, but parents and privilege kept throwing out safety nets and buffers, kept padding the walls and picking up the pieces, so that all their acts were meaningless, literally inconsequential. They floated like astronauts in outer space.

Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters. This is about a need for which we hardly have language or at least not a familiar conversation.

From Rebecca Solnit’s “The loneliness of Donald Trump” in Literary Hub.

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Connections and monopoly rights are how Australia’s richest got rich..

Paul Frijters is the coauthor of a new book (with Cameron Murray) about the way Australians make money called Game of Mates.

A few years back he examined the Rich 200 List with economist Gigi Foster for the Australian Economic Review.

They found that “over 80 per cent of the wealthiest Australians have made their fortunes in property, mining, banking, superannuation and finance generally – all heavily regulated industries in which fortunes can be made by getting favourable property rezonings, planning law exemptions, mining concessions, labour law exemptions, money creation powers and mandated markets of many stripes”.

It’s a particularly Australian way to make money.

From Peter Martin’s “Game of Mates: How billionaires get rich at our expense” in The Age. 

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Great stripped down hip hop with wonderful archival footage from Aboriginal political history for the video clip.

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