Friday, February 27, 2009

More about working class consciousness

This is just a filler post. I really need to find the time to talk about working class consciousness and why it's not just about the money.

If you are lucky enough to be a member of the twue wurkn klas, you need to sign on to a couple of ideas that are not the stuff of popular culture.

You need to decide that the real heroes of this world are not the Donald Trump type, but the people whose names you never know who go deep into the bowels of this planet and carve out the coal that makes this blog posssible. You need to look at the folks who build the furniture, mold the steel and pave the roads that make our day to day lives livable.

You need to decide that all this glorification of rich people and professionals and academics would be NOTHING if there weren't people who go down into the mines, who line up at the factories, who step up to the registers and do all the various and mundane things that make our lives possible.

Why does our literature fail to acknowledge the power that is created when everyday people clock into every jobs? Is there anything more glorious than this?

I have met one or two writers who truly tap into that reality and they are precious to me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's not about the money

Joe Hill - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

What does it mean to be working class and to consciously adopt that title for oneself? Here's a hint:

Class consciousness: ”The awareness of individuals in a particular social class that they share common interests and a common social situation. Class consciousness is associated with the development of a ‘class-for-itself’ where individuals within the class unite to pursue their shared interests.”. Online Dictionary of Social Sciences

Who are you gonna choose to fight beside if it comes to that?

Who are you gonna defend?

Which side are you on?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

BBC Book

Part of the "I spend a lot of time reading" series. Also, one of these days I need to try reading Dickens and Austen again. I've failed miserably in the past.

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

1) Bold those you have read.
2) *Star the ones you loved.
3) Italicise those you plan on reading.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
*3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations
*11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Berniere

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
*40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
*41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (hated it)
*43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
*48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
*59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
*60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
*61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt (absolutely loathed it)
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
*65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
*73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
*87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
*91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Revolutionary LOLcat

Revolutionary Cat - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kittens inspired by Kittens

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nadya Suleman, Octomom!

Nadya Suleman - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

I must say, I am fascinated by our media and personal responses to the recent news that a single mother gave birth to eight premature babies. The Suleman Octuplets are a medical miracle and are already the longest lived octuplets living today.

Now, I have to admit right up front that I am often fascinated by stories that catch on like this one. We receive snippets of information, but not the whole story. We hear a variety of self-righteous and outraged opinions even when the facts are not there. We have a zillion assumptions about the mother, her lifestyle, the sperm donor, the doctors, the future of the children. The conclusions are often dire and melodramatic.

A few feminist bloggers I'm aware of have highlighted Suleman's right to choose to have children. Here are some that impressed me:

Rene from Womanist Musings writes an article entitled Nadya Suleman and the Choice We Never Respect

She was not forced to carry these babies to term; it was an active decision on her part. If, as feminists, we can argue that women have the right to choose to have an abortion, then the right to choose motherhood should be equally validated; furthermore the right to privacy extends to Ms. Suleman’s decision as well.

MZBitka at What a Crazy Random Happenstance writes Have babies, but only the right way

This is just another example that no matter what women chose to do with their bodies, if it’s viewed as the correct way, people will be there to criticize and shame them for it.

Ouyang Dan at Random Babble writes Ms. Suleman's Uterus and Our Perceived Right to Decide for Her.

A woman’s right to choose is exactly that, and it doesn’t matter how squicky you feel about it. The only fucking thing that matters is that woman and what she wants w/ her body. This woman has a plan, based on her own interview, and we may not like it, we may not all agree w/ the way she is doing it, but tough. It’s Not. Our. Call. Her right to become a mother is just as sacred as any woman’s right not to. That is worth defending.

I want to add my voice to these three women and say that, regardless of our personal feelings on the matter, we defend Suleman's right to make her own reproductive choices. She wants to have a lot of children, she believes she can be a good mother, I'm not going to make the assumption that she cannot do so.

So how did things turn so nasty toward Nadya and her decisions? Here's a good take from Brendon O'Neill at Spiked Online called And Act of Extreme Fecundity

When Nadya Suleman gave birth to six boys and two girls in five minutes on 26 January, it was greeted as a ‘midwinter miracle’, a story that ‘cheered recession-hit America’, a ‘welcome relief from bailouts and bankruptcies’. Now, with the eight babes barely one week old, it has become a shrill parable about overpopulation, resource depletion, the dangers of fertility treatment and the problem of ‘poor mothers’. The story has shapeshifted from a ‘ray of sunshine for a nation in the grip of economic meltdown’ to a ‘tale of seedy self-indulgence’

Yeah, this is what really hits me. Why is it that everything turned around so fast? Is it because Suleman is single? Is it because we are suspicious of the fertility industry? Are we really going to forget the horrors of population control and pretend we are concerned with her family's carbon footprint?

Nope. Not really buying that shit. Leave the woman and her family alone. Go pick on somebody your own size or bigger. Take one tax loophole away from an oil company and you'd have funds to feed all the children of the world, including the Suleman's.

The way these stories distract us from doing good activist work and making a difference in the world today is truly sad.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Left on my computer at work

Leopard sign - Photo Hosted at Buzznet