LAPD appears in a video spot executing “summary justice.”

In twenty seconds, six LAPD police officers managed to render a single homeless man face down and neutralized on the ground. By twenty two seconds, the sound of an operational taser can be heard in the background. By twenty six seconds, a shot is fired and twenty eight seconds, a man is shot multiple times in the back and is likely dead on the scene.

As usual, I hear the rants of “let’s wait until we hear all the facts.”

This video does a pretty good job of establishing the facts to me. Six men vs one man. One man face down, one man shot in the back. Six men to hide and cover up the facts.

I will wager the shooter will get two weeks of paid vacation, a screening committee sensitive to the needs of the police community and if there is no grand jury, no one should be surprised. The man shot was a homeless man unlikely to have good representation or family to pursue the issue.

Justice in America means you are never too old to be shot, never too poor to experience summary justice and never too black to NOT be shot in the back while you are lying face down on the pavement.

Justice. Her role in today’s drama will be played by Negligence and her brother Contempt. Enjoy the show.

I Quit! – ‘My profession … no longer exists’

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FROM THE DAILY KOS (But I so endorse every word!)

Teacher’s resignation letter: ‘My profession … no longer exists’
Valerie Strauss April 6, 2013

Increasingly teachers are speaking out against school reforms that they believe are demeaning their profession, and some are simply quitting because they have had enough.
Here is one resignation letter from a veteran teacher, Gerald J. Conti, a social studies teacher at Westhill High School in Syracuse, N.Y.:

Mr. Casey Barduhn, Superintendent
Westhill Central School District
400 Walberta Park Road
Syracuse, New York 13219

Dear Mr. Barduhn and Board of Education Members:

It is with the deepest regret that I must retire at the close of this school year, ending my more than twenty-seven years of service at Westhill on June 30, under the provisions of the 2012-15 contract. I assume that I will be eligible for any local or state incentives that may be offered prior to my date of actual retirement and I trust that I may return to the high school at some point as a substitute teacher.

As with Lincoln and Springfield, I have grown from a young to an old man here; my brother died while we were both employed here; my daughter was educated here, and I have been touched by and hope that I have touched hundreds of lives in my time here. I know that I have been fortunate to work with a small core of some of the finest students and educators on the planet.

I came to teaching forty years ago this month and have been lucky enough to work at a small liberal arts college, a major university and this superior secondary school. To me, history has been so very much more than a mere job, it has truly been my life, always driving my travel, guiding all of my reading and even dictating my television and movie viewing. Rarely have I engaged in any of these activities without an eye to my classroom and what I might employ in a lesson, a lecture or a presentation.

With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that  “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised.

STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.

A long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of Federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle. Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian.

This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place. This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale. The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair. Why should it be acceptable in our careers and in the education of our children?

My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.

Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to “prove up” our worth to the tyranny of APPR (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven. Process has become our most important product, to twist a phrase from corporate America, which seems doubly appropriate to this case.

After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.

For the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read, “Words Matter” and “Ideas Matter”. While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.

Sincerely and with regret,

Gerald J. Conti
Social Studies Department Leader
Cc: Doreen Bronchetti, Lee Roscoe
My little Zu.

This is not from me. This was eloquently written by a true expert in their field whom everyone should listen to, educator, Gerald J. Conti. I picked it up from an article in the Washington Post by Valerie Strauss. Read it and learn…there will be a test after.

Why do Japanese have blue eyes and blond hair in anime?

A Question from

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Answered by Martin Schneider:

Keep in mind that anime follows a complex visual language, where seemingly innocuous elements carry deeper meaning. And hair color is among the first and foremost, especially when dealing with female characters.

Meaning that in most cases, the color of an anime character’s hair does not reflect some natural hair color or a racial stereotype – instead, it is supposed to be a hint towards their personality and their role in the plot.

I guess it’s high time for yet another crash course in anime hair color symbolism… take a seat.


Yellow hair:

The most widespread meaning is simply “someone special”. This holds especially true for shoujo (for girls) manga/anime titles, where you can pretty safely bet that the most important female lead will be blonde. Occasionally, it can also signify “the rude/inconsiderate foreigner”, for example a non-Japanese character with an abrasive or rude personality – but that’s more of an exception than the rule.

Blue hair:

…typically signifies a quiet, softspoken, intellectual, sometimes even introverted character – albeit often one with a surprisingly strong will. In addition, such characters tend to get portrayed as refined, tradition-oriented and feminine, quite often even as examples of the Yamato Nadeshiko ideal.

Red hair:

…strongly suggests a tomboyish, inconsiderate, loud, often headstrong, “leader” archetype. This character will often charge ahead and/or speak her mind without holding back. In the extreme case, this behavior will go all the way to the point of acting rash or even stupid. Also tend to have voracious appetites.
Note: agressive shades of orange pretty much fall into the same category.

(Bright) Green hair:

Mostly extinct these days – but bright green hair is most often the sign of the “genki girl”, another comedy-oriented character archetype. Such a character is chipper, upbeat, active, sports-minded and energetic. However, unlike a redhead, this character is more feminine and less prone to blindly rushing ahead – and usually displays normal or above-average levels of intelligence.
Note: darker shades of green typically carry similar connotations as “blue”.

Purple hair:

Also near-extinct – at least when it comes to intense shades of purple. What is still somewhat common, however, is characters with lighter/paler shades of purple. These almost always come with long, flowing hair and typically signify some sort of detached, noble, cultured, dainty, often even mysterious, “fantasy princess” archetype.

Pink hair:

Ah yes, pink. The one color that has undergone the strongest shift since the beginning of my anime career. Originally, this color was rare, and reserved for a select few childlike characters. But then… the moe phenomenon happened. And made this color the industry standard for dozens of “cutesy-moe-female-leads”. Today pink hair is pretty much everywhere… yet some of the attributes have carried over. Even today, pink characters still tend to be not very bright, somewhat innocent, naive – and often idealistic to the point of being silly.

Brown hair:

Brown stands for “warm+friendly normal” and is the most common “day-to-day-life side character” haircolor. Similar to black, the underlying message is not very strong – still, brown is most popular for longtime childhood friends, or all sorts of “safe/reliable” love-interests. Characters with this hair color tend to play some role in the plot, and be close friends of the leads, but they still represent normality and following social expectations… sometimes to the point of being boring.

Black hair:

Being the most widespread Japanese hair color, this does not nearly carry a meaning as strongly predefined as most others – in fact, it can simply mean “the everybody”. However, in cases when the character has long, flowing black hair, it can be intended as a shorthand for “noble lady / Japanese princess / idol of the whole school” characters. In that respect, it sometimes once again overlaps with the Yamato Nadeshiko notion.


Surprised that you didn’t find “white” in the list, yet? Well, that is because luminance/brightness is typically on an orthogonal scale to the various colors above…

Simply put, the brightness of a character’s hair communicates how down-to-earth<–>otherworldly a character is. The darker a color, the more that character lives in the here and now – and the brighter, the more esoteric, distant, magical and surreal he/she is…

With the extreme version of that trope, signifying “utter otherworldliness”, being plain white:


Disclaimer: The archetypes listed here describe the stereotypical expectations that characters of a certain hair color will incite in an experienced audience of anime viewers. But guess what, sometimes the industry dares to *gasp* subvert expectations. In other words, these are strong, recurring patterns - but not hard-and-fast, immutable rules.


TL;DR:
Hair color in anime carries an intended meaning – and that meaning will typically easily override any sort of “normal” coloring that you would expect in terms of “realism”. As such, in most cases, it is futile to try to interpret any anime hair color as being a representative of some real-world race/hair color.

Why do Japanese have blue eyes and blond hair in anime?

Black History Month – Still Hating It!

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Every day in America is Black History

In February, we are told it is Black History Month. We are allowed to celebrate our accomplishments and display them with pride before a nation that is only too happy to appropriate from us whatever it wants and give us nothing in return.

As it has always been. When Black Apologists say the past is the past and we should get over it, I hang my head in shame for their ignorance. It is clear that such people are given a pulpit to speak because it promotes the ideals so necessary for the system of disenfranchisement we live under to continue.

We can accept that stupid people will say stupid things and move on, or we can stand up and fight for what we know to be right.

Nothing that happened in America should be forgotten. The near-genocide of the Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans, the decimation of new immigrants and ultimately the financial enslavement of an entire planet.

This is why we must never forget the indignities of the past. They are a persistent illusion perpetuated for profit. A canker that disfigures and stigmatizes the efforts of People of Color in America, acting as if our efforts were never meant to do any more than serve those who perceived themselves to be our betters.

Though they were not able to maintain their control over slavery, they have allowed it to be redesigned, re-purposed and hidden in plain sight in the modern era. They call it Jim Crow, Segregation, Separate but Equal, Economic Redlining, the School-to-Prison Pipeline, the Prison-Industrial Complex, the War on Drugs, and their latest addition, Sanctioned Police Brutality and Murder of People of Color in the Line of Duty (now with added vacation time!).

Today the chains are softer, internalized, and often self-perpetuated. Housewives of Atlanta, Self-Hating Rap Music, Celebrity and Sports obsessions, and a good ole America standby, Religion and all of its various self-loathing aphorisms.

The game has changed, but the message is still the same. You can’t compete. We won’t let you. We don’t say no. We just don’t say yes, either.

If you are able to be successful, many times you must do so by casting down your culture and claiming your identity from the one we allow you to wear. Marry White, move away from your people, don’t past down your wealth, disavow your past.

Wear your chains, know your place. I have no use for Black History Month. You cannot give me what I have already earned.

I am the dream of America. I am its awful reality. I cannot be broken and I will not relent. You cannot pretend I don’t exist. Change the media, warp the minds, create your lies.

The truth is far simpler than you would care to believe. For all of your power, all of your cleverness, the only thing you have proven to be superior in is keeping all of humanity in chains to whims better forgotten.

Promoting selfishness as a virtue is foolish. Promoting division among people to maintain your control is wasteful. How many lives have been thrown away furthering an agenda that benefits only a privileged few?

Billions, I’d imagine.

In a few decades, you reign of terror will be over. You will huddle in your walled enclaves and believe in your superiority while you count your worthless billions and hope no one scales the wall to make you pay for your generations of criminal activity.

In the meantime remember this: I will not be stopped. Not now. Not ever. Keep Black History Month for yourselves.

I claim the YEAR, all three hundred and sixty five and a quarter days of it to reminding you WE ARE STILL HERE.

Stronger than you can imagine. More fiercely determined to make our way.

And to be honest, we’re just not that into you. Never were.

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If you like this article:

RACISM IN AMERICA: The Scarlet Letter of A Nation

CIVILIZATION IS A FRAUD: What’s so civilized about it?

A LATE RADICALIZATION: Viewpoint of the Author

Thaddeus Howze is a California-based technologist and author who has worked with computer technology since the 1980’s doing graphic design, computer science, programming, network administration and IT leadership.

His non-fiction work has appeared in numerous magazines: Black Enterprise, the Good Men Project, Examiner.com, and Astronaut.com. He maintains a diverse collection of non-fiction at his blog, A Matter of Scale. He is a contributor at The Enemy, a nonfiction literary publication out of Los Angeles.

He is a contributor to the Scifi.Stackexchange.com with over a thousand articles in a three year period. He is now an author and contributor at Scifiideas.com. His science fiction and fantasy has appeared in blogs such as Medium.com, the Magill Review, ScifiIdeas.com, and the Au Courant Press Journal. He has a wide collection of his work on his website, Hub City Blues. His recently published works can be found here. He also maintains a wide collection of his writing and editing work on Medium.com.

His speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies: Awesome Allshorts: Last Days and Lost Ways (Australia, 2014), The Future is Short (2014), Visions of Leaving Earth (2014), Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond (2014), Genesis Science Fiction (2013), Scraps (2012), and Possibilities (2012).

He has written two books: a collection called Hayward’s Reach (2011) and an e-book novella called Broken Glass (2013). In 2015 he will be releasing Visiting Hours and A Millennium of Madness, two collections of short stories.

If you have enjoyed this publication or any of the other writing he does, consider becoming a Patron. For what you spend on a cup of coffee once per month, you can assist him in creating new stories, new graphics, new articles and new novels. Creating the new takes a little support: http://patreon.com/ebonstorm.

 

 

Civilization is a FRAUD – What’s so civilized about it?

 

‘The “civilized” have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death; these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the conscience of civilized world.’  —James Baldwin

POVERTY IS A TOOL

It is in this writer’s opinion poverty, poverty as we know it in the modern world and in the modern sense, does not need to exist.

It is a byproduct of lifestyles, of policies, of politics, of psychologies driven through conscious and unconscious selections. But in recent centuries, the means to abolish poverty came to mean it was possible for humanity to share the wealth among its members, producing an age where poverty did not exist. Despite the occasional protestations about the end of the world or the world’s inability to support growing populations, Humanity continued to exist and grow. And grow more unequal.

Instead of growing more equal and egalitarian, society took a subtle but unpleasant turn toward selfishness, toward personal gain, toward greed and instead of abolishing poverty, poverty was embraced and recognized as a tool by those in control.

Poverty has been weaponized in modern society.

  • Debt is the ultimate expression of power in this, our capitalist-focused pretense of a civilization;
  • Fantastic (as in imaginative or fanciful; remote from reality, definition) personal wealth has become the ultimate billy club, the ultimate expression of force, more powerful than any legal system.
  • The creation of socialized debt and poverty manufacture has become more enabling than any political power. More subtle than the quietly offered bribe and more invasive. More influential than any kind of charismatic leadership.
  • Money has become the ultimate aphrodisiac, lubricant, and problem-solver as long as the problem requires lots of money to be thrown at it, in perpetuity, with subsidies for all (who deserve them and know how to lobby to get them).

Combine the use of weaponized poverty by the fantastically rich who use their wealth to create opportunities of social imbalance:

  • Creating a “need” for education in the workforce while at the same time “providing” the resource at an exorbitant price, driving everyone into debt to participate due to the inescapable “requirement” for a degree to be had by everyone, even if you’re just serving fries across a counter in a fast-food franchise.
  • Altering a police structure from a “protect and serve” environment of civil service to a “fee collection service” managed by local government in place to offset taxes no longer collected against the wealthy and now subsidized instead by taking even more from the already cash-strapped lower-class citizens of major metropolises already struggling to just stay in the rat race.
  • Driving people to homelessness with any interaction with the civil system from a parking ticket to a speeding ticket. Any time a citizen in one of these cities meets a cop, there is a fee involved that will take away anywhere from a day to a week’s worth of pay in one interaction.
  • With most people living just a paycheck from homelessness, to meet the police may be to greet your harbinger to homelessness or even outright criminality as you are forced to choose between feeding your family or paying a fine to avoid getting a bench warrant which will eventually end in your arrest.
  • Creating a medical and health system so imbalanced that millions of people will go into debt through no fault of their own because the medical industry cannot be bothered with tracking and regulating itself so that people can find themselves in debt without even knowing it after a visit to the hospital that might have been thought to be covered by insurers.
  • Meanwhile entire food industries are enriched by the creation of food-like products from industrial food processes which create and exacerbate health problems in societies across the world, shortening lifespans, reducing quality of life and driving people into the arms of a corrupt medical-industrial complex only too happy to capitalize on the dying while making no efforts to change the systems which create these sicknesses in the first place.
  • The medical industry is little more than an accomplice in this orgy of food-product devastation across the planet.

People starve in lands of plenty, eating food that isn’t food, creating lives which end sooner, with a poorer quality of life. If the Sword of Damocles could be asked, it would be embarrassed by abundance of the damned dancing beneath it’s ominous shadow.

A PAUCITY OF JUSTICE

We have the dual justice system adding insult to injury in the lives of those not rich enough to buy JUSTICE and instead are forced to mutter beneath their breaths when the issue of the who the punitive aspects of our legal system are for.

They can reply unequivocally, “just us”.

Everyone who is worth less than a million dollars can agree, just as easily as the news media parades a multitude of cases before you, showing how the wealthy pay a fine when involved in atrocities that destroy the lives of millions and how the poor, even when they are engaged in non-violent, non-lethal crimes can find themselves arrested for upwards of three decades.

They are slaved out to corporate farms, fire-fighting teams, industrial widget builders and thralls-for-hire. Even when the murderer is clearly in the wrong for an act poorer men have hung for, somehow, an excuse, a malady real or imagined (i.e. affluenza) will excuse the wealthy from the punishments assigned to the rest of us.

Being poor in America is having a greater and greater meaning as the systems once used to bring prosperity to the masses creating a middle-class are dismantled under the guise of “de-regulation” when those regulations were put in place to protect all of us from the greed of capitalism run amok, unregulated, unconcerned with the effects of its rapacious growth on the environment, society, and ultimately upon itself as it strip-mines the people whom it needs to buy its products and services.

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‘The man most likely to want to lead government, such as it is, the man most likely to believe government has to do more with what’s in his pocket than in is heart or head, also tends to be the least fit to do so. This delusion should be satisfied by electing such folk as dog walkers, given a collection of various animals according to their nature and ushered out to perform a civic duty they are so aptly suited for.’ —Mark Twain (he didn’t say this, but I think he would have!)

WHAT ARE WE DOING?

Is the final goal of this engine of capitalism to leave nothing but the scorched earth behind it as it absorbs the fruits and the bodies of its laborers toiling in conditions just shy of legally-sanction criminality, under the guise of double-digit corporate growth?

Is the goal to leave no natural rain forest unmolested, no oil-bearing shale deposit unmined, no natural resource unexploited for the sake of the next billion-unit gadget being sold to help folks masturbate virtually?

Is the goal to say “we are so wealthy, the environment doesn’t matter, burning carbon doesn’t matter, clean oceans bereft of all life, doesn’t matter; human lives where people have dignity, respect, education, a sense of worth and belonging to viable communities, doesn’t matter?”

Is the goal to remind us that all of the things we see in the media exist to serve the capitalist agenda of selling products, moving goods and ultimately pandering to created needs using propaganda, commercials and social manipulation of memes until people are willing to go into debt for the latest iGadget, no matter how many times a year it’s upgraded.

Is the goal really to say to everyone involved in this grand experiment of humanity to say “fuck you if you weren’t born wealthy or aren’t ruthless enough to sell your fellow humans up the river for your personal benefit?”

Is this why Pope Francis pisses everyone off? Because he has the temerity to point out to everyone who uses the teachings of the church as a cover for their cultural duplicity that he, as the titular head of that church, will not sit idly by and provide cover for their reprehensible behavior?

The Pope reminds us:

  • Climate change is bad and we know it. We can lie and say “we’re not sure, but we truly already know its bad and saying anything but that is disingenuous at best.
  • Punishing the poor for being poor, throwing them in jail, pushing them out of their homes is not Christian. Hell no it’s not. Nor is bringing back debtor’s prisons or redlining, or the prison-industrial complex. Making people poor and then arresting them for being poor is criminal.
  • Hydraulic fracturing? How do you square the circle of saying we would rather have oil than water, when there are already millions around the world without enough water?
  • Aren’t there corporations with no problem risking fresh water for millions of people deeming their lives less important than the billions of dollars to be made by using that water to get access to fossil fuels we could, if we were forward thinking, be putting aside for something better, using renewable energies instead.

THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU

This part is for my Sisters and Brothers out there who I trust have figured it out by now. America’s amble bosom does not provide equal nurturing for all her citizens. “With Liberty and Justice” for those who are properly connected and doing what the established system of inequality deems is your place to be.

People say its because the dominant subculture doesn’t take People of Color seriously and that is why they ignore us in the media.

While I use the term People of Color, I realize it is more inclusive to say anyone who isn’t part of the lucky sperm club. If you weren’t born rich, you are the problem and the system does take you seriously.

You are not necessarily a problem individually. After all, you are an individual without much in the way of resources, it’s only when you are part of a larger movement do they acknowledge you. But they have figured out how to keep those movements from happening. See: Occupy.

You see, they take us quite seriously and we are a far greater threat than we realize to them. You don’t marginalize an enemy that doesn’t matter.

You ignore him.

When you systematically make an effort to undermine a particular enemy, demonize him, incarcerate him, kill him, destroy his family, take his women, undermine his way of life, this is how you get rid of an enemy you fear.

If the system is doing that to YOU or someone in the public sphere, they fear them. They fear their power, their influence, their ability to generate a viral idea which might unseat them.

Their fear is of a Black Planet. Genetically speaking we are already a Black Planet since all life started in Africa but what they fear is the visual confirmation of something that already exists and will only continue from this point forward, unless in their minds, they do something about it.

Part of this article came about because of the deaths in Nigeria and why they haven’t managed to draw the attention of the deaths of the cartoonists in France this week.

They didn’t pay attention to Black deaths because, to them, they don’t matter. They never have. Likely, if current trends remain constant, they never will.

Since the end of “chattel slavery” the dominant subculture has done everything possible to attempt to return to the days of free labor. All of its “engines of progress” are simply other ways finding new ways to reduce the cost of labor which can be 50% of all costs for a business.

In other words, how can we make people work for less?

Slavery was the most effective means of wealth-building the United States and the world has ever known. And though it isn’t talked about in polite company, know organizations around the world are trying to find new ways of exploiting a worldwide workforce, without paying for it. See: “TransPacific Partnership”.

“Respectability politics” has never meant anything to the dominant subculture. Even when People of Color were self-supporting and maintained our own separate but equal facilities, towns, places we could call our own, they were never content to leave us in peace.

The bottom line is simple and few of us want to accept it. Racism is an economic ploy, not just a social one. It has allowed entire industries to blossom on the backs of bigotry, hatred and cultural appropriation and destruction.

Note the recent police “slowdown” in New York City where with the reduced activity of the police in across the city, our people are spending less time being arrested, harassed and cited, being forced to spend our already weakened dollars on fines, fees and defenses against a city using the poorest members to fill its coffers.

Adding insult to injury a recent news article by Reuters reports that lawyers and bail bondsmen are experiencing “economic hardship” because the police were funding their “industry” with arrests from our community. (http://www.reuters.com/…/us-usa-police-arrests...) What happened to the question of whether there should be as many of these services in the first place?

What needs to be understood is this: Poverty is a weapon. When you can control what a man earns and how he spends it, you can control all aspects of his life, his future and direct it in whatever fashion you want.

If we want to be more independent of this negative cultural control, we must find a way to free ourselves from the economic hegemony being exercised on our backs. Our children need to step away from the TV and get back to the basics.

Mastery of skills, mastery of self, preparation for the future, first by being educated and second by avoiding the media engine designed to undermine self-esteem, self-worth and self-determination.

Unless we can shake off our generations of “induced poverty” and “media-mentality” we have no chance of making effective strides in this society. If you wonder why nothing appears to change, that is the reason. There’s no profit in treating you as a person, with dignity, respect and a sense of individual purpose and wealth.

You are much more valuable as a brain-damaged, suffering, emotional wreck, barely able to pay your bills, willing to get into debt across the entire span of your life. Early in your life, with college debt, with a house in your middle years (if you’re lucky) and with numerous organ transplants or cancer treatments when you’re old.

They want to make money on you from the cradle to the grave.

Would you like fries with that?

To those who have been reading Marvel and DC comics for the past 30 years, how has the quality of the stories (plot and writing) changed?

Answer by Your’s Truly (the database sent it to my blog as answered by a Quora Admin which isn’t true):

Robert Frost’s answer sums up a part of my personal perspective but I wanted to go just a bit further. I was hoping someone else would chime in because I feel so old talking about the reduction in overall quality of comics.

But the reduction in quality is not in their production values. Comics are more beautiful than they have ever been. Printed on better paper, colorful in a way the old comic creators would have given a limb to be able to create, they are a visual extravaganza, whose decades of technique can be (not always) shown by the proper artist/writing/editing team of creating works whose like has rarely been seen.

More modern works by George Perez, Geoff Johns, Mark Millar and many other legendary names have been responsible for some of the best and brightest events in recent comics. And yes, I know there are many others.

WHO TURNED OUT THE LIGHTS?

What had changed for me in the comic industry was the change in the perspective of the heroes and the story themes.

They have become dark anti-heroic versions of themselves. They lack hope, most no longer believe in a brighter future and if there were characters among them that did, (Charles Xavier, for example) they seem to meet an untimely end… (Yes, Xavier has died before…so he may not stay dead.)

The stories in modern comics are patently less cheerful, less hopeful and more about a creeping despair, not a climb toward the top of a mountain of challenges, but more of an inexorable movement toward an unchangeable world whose inertia has become unable to stop its slide toward defeat.

Extreme fans whose perspectives are being catered to have reduced the overall quality of the work for the rest of us. Such catering/pandering seem to effect even the slightest changes to long standing characters such as Wonder Woman who after forty years, still can’t get a full pair of pants or a jacket, without incurring fanboy outrage.


COMPARING THE ERAS

The most pressing changes I notice in the comic industry include:

  • Superheroes don’t fight villains exclusively. As a matter of fact it is increasingly difficult to determine where the line between hero and villain is drawn.
  • Is Doctor Doom a heroic villain? Is (was) Wolverine a murderous hero? How about the Punisher? He’s killing mobsters who have no problem murdering the average citizen for wealth and power. Is the Punisher the solution or part of the problem. How about Spawn? He fights evil in some of its purest forms, using powers derived from Evil. He uses the same methods his foes use including torture and torment. Ghost Rider does as well. This widening of the grey moral boundary is one of the most exciting thing (to a lot of readers) to happen in comics. I still question if it is good, right or necessary.
  • When I grew up reading comics, it wasn’t unusual for the occasional superheroic dust-up when two heroes who hadn’t met before or when a costume change might cause a mistaken identity and the two would battle before realizing they were on the same side. Then they would bring the pain to the bad guys, who were clearly defined.



One of my favorite comics of the 80s. Marvel Two-in-One was always a bit of a clash of heroic styles and the occasional hero slugfest before getting down to the business of fighting villainy.

  • Now? Superheroes spend as much time fighting each other as they did villains. What happened to the brotherhood of earlier eras? What happened to the greater good? Why have all of the stories become about hero on hero conflict?
  • I blame Secret Wars, the Beyonder and all of their spinoffs for this trend. Today we have Civil War and a bunch of other superhero conflicts where the ability to tell whose side you should be one is met with a colossal “meh”. It would appear the Secret Wars will be making a reappearance in the next couple of years as well. <Sigh.>


  • The superheroes don’t break up secret cabals, they now become them. DC had an entire storyline where the Justice League mindwipes its members because of a disagreement about how to handle a rapist. Marvel has a group of supposed super-intelligent heroes who plot how to “protect” the world from threats only they can perceive. They even call themselves “The Illuminati.”



Marvel’s Illuminati – a secret cabal of good guys? When did good guys form cabals anyway?

  • There are times when superheroes of one universe might be considered supervillains in another. The Authority, an otherworld version of the Justice League, for a time were some of the most feared metahumans on their world and likely several nearby realities as well.



The Authority: as scary a version of the Justice League you ever want to see.

  • Supervillains have now become better heroes than the heroes themselves. Witness both the popularity and effectiveness of the Marvel series: Thunderbolts.

This transformation in the status quo has left me breathless and hopeless for writing where the characters return to their more heroic lifestyles.

But with all of that visual splendor I mentioned earlier, there are ugly politics of race and gender hiring. The Big Two of Marvel and DC have both come under fire in recent years for their lack of diversity in either of their bullpens as far as regular writers, artists or editors are concerned.

The last thirty years has shown how little diversity there is in the hiring of creative talent and how little the medium’s color palette has changed over the decades. While our world has grown more complex and racially integrated such change has not managed to creep into the comics themselves. Marvel’s recent efforts to bring in some diversity had resulted in the gender-bending of Thor and the recent forced retirement of Steve Rogers and replacement of Sam Wilson in the titular role of Captain America.



The new, more diverse Avengers…

Comic characters created long ago are generating top dollars at the box office. This has renewed creator’s rights lawsuits against comics companies for a slice of the ever-growing pie created by movies and those characters. With money being potentially made not through the comic medium but through television, movies, merchandising and advertising, the comic has now become little more than a gateway industry whose primary mission is to set up other media engines for potential financial growth.

Comics, their characters, their themes, their once revolutionary perspectives have fallen by the wayside, secondary to the the overall need to make money for the corporate bottom line.

There are so many things that undermine what was once a simple pleasure created by individuals who wanted to tell heroic and mythic stories. Even the underlying spirit of the characters has been irrevocably changed:


Compare the perspective on my favorite hero, Superman:

  • Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!
  • Voices: “Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”
  • Announcer: “Yes, it’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands; and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.”


To his more modern counterpart in the Man of Steel:

  • Faster than a cruise missile, more powerful than an exploding nuclear weapon, able to span the globe in mere seconds!
  • Screams of terror from the ground: Look up in the sky! It’s an alien death machine! It’s destroying our city! Is he going to save us? It’s Superman!
  • Announcer: Yes, it’s Superman, refugee from another planet whose inhabitants were too arrogant or lazy, we are never sure which, to determine what was wrong with whatever mishap caused their planet to explode. (Planets don’t explode unless you are really doing something terribly irresponsible.)
  • Building a rocket small enough for one, his parents sent a child whose superhuman potential could have rendered the Earth, desolate if he landed in the hands of the wrong people, Kal-El would grow up ostracized and alone before he decided he should help people.


Kal-El, hobo of Steel

  • Discovering renegade Kryptonians want to destroy the Earth, Kal-El chooses to protect Humanity, resulting in the deaths of only millions who will likely revile him and other aliens in general setting up a movie franchise where one of the world’s most recognizable icons becomes a character no one wants to admit they actually know personally.
  • Superman, angst-filled hero from another planet who has yet to inspire this latest generation to anything other than wholesale destruction of entire cities, the defeat of another Kryptonian threat with the murder (okay, necessary execution /manslaughter) of an enemy more powerful than himself.
  • Yes, Superman, furthering the fear the common man has of an alien who looks like them, can fly faster than jets, can destroy entire cities in about twenty minutes and completely unable to be held accountable for his actions, by anyone.”

​Yes, this pretty much undermines my viewpoint of these iconic characters for me and makes me long for those ridiculous stories like A Tale of Two Supermen.

SUMMARY

My biggest feeling about the comic industry is that it reflects the darkness of the real world, reinforced with the horrors capable of being generated by virtue of being a world of imagination.

Where in the real world we contend with terrorists, environmental catastrophe, and the threat of social collapse as our economies become more intertwined.

In the Marvel Universe, we see this reflected in the collapse of the multiversal membranes and other Earths trying to occupy the space of our Earth, with our finest heroes having to defeat and potentially slay versions of themselves trying to protect THEIR Earth.

No matter how you slice this, someone has to lose and this undermines what comics have always meant to me. The underlying theme in comics, which I managed to bring into my own life was this:

Do your best to find a win-win for everyone. Real heroes don’t accept the win-lose scenario. We fight for the best possible scenario for everyone involved. When you are forced to make that choice, the hero sacrifices himself before allowing those without the power, the capacity and the responsibility to make that choice in his place.

Today’s comics promote the idea there can be no true winners. Only those who lose a little less than those who lose everything.

I thought the idea of promoting mythic heroes was to talk about how they overcame the odds already stacked against them by being clever, strong, wise, unorthodox or thorough just plain cussedness. Determined to find a solution, not only of convenience but one promoting a future worth having, not just the future we have to settle for.

Sadly, I don’t see those heroes anymore. I guess they weren’t lucrative enough for corporate America. Marvel has taken a page from the DC playbook and begun destroying pieces of its Multiverse, because nothing makes money like destroying the Universe.

For DC it was Crisis on Infinite Earths, for Marvel, the Incursions taking place in New Avengers. Whatever it is, the story will make money but won’t demonstrate the heroism we have come to associate with these heroes when I was growing up.

I see this as the twilight of the comic hero, a being who promoted a perspective there isn’t room in the future. One where you could resist the inexorable descent into mediocrity, strive for greatness and recognize it wasn’t in the achieving of that greatness that mattered but in the striving.

​For DC it was Crisis on Infinite Earths, for Marvel, the Incursions taking place in New Avengers. Whatever it is, the story will make money but won’t demonstrate the heroism we have come to associate with these heroes when I was growing up.

I see this as the twilight of the comic hero, a being who promoted a perspective there isn’t room in the future. One where you could resist the inexorable descent into mediocrity, strive for greatness and recognize it wasn’t in the achieving of that greatness that mattered but in the striving.

To those who have been reading Marvel and DC comics for the past 30 years, how has the quality of the stories (plot and writing) changed?

Banned books? People Still Read?

banned

The Written Word

The most powerful invention created by humanity right after fire, agriculture and the thrown rock (though not necessarily in that order).

The written word allows us to share information across time and space. To store ideas frozen for generations for new thinkers to review, revise, and even renew. Writing connects us with our past and with the future. From the Rosetta Stone to the Gutenberg Bible, writing consistently proved its value to Humanity again and again, allowing ideas, even forbidden ones, social and cultural taboos, their chance at immortality.

If they can get by the censors. For as long as we’ve been writing, there has been someone to say: Oh my god! You can’t write that! What if <insert sheltered group here> were to see this?

Censoring knowledge, hiding the written word is not new. Books can go from being literature to being banned in less than a generation. The Steinbeck classic, The Grapes of Wrath incited rage and banning soon after its release. Today, it is taught as a classic work of early American literature. Want to see a southern sixth grade teacher foam at the mouth? Mention teaching Huckleberry Finn and watch the foam fly. America’s on again, off again love of what is arguably an American classic, Huckleberry Finn, one of Mark Twain’s most famous works, falls into and out of grace like clockwork. The list of authors who have been banned might astound you. I happened to stumble upon this excellent infographic and wanted to share it with anyone who can appreciate just how good you have to be, to be considered BAD for post-literate America.

Post-literacy is the concept of a society where almost everyone is taught to read and no one feels compelled to actually engage in reading. An unfortunate part of the recent anti-intellectualism sweeping the nation. If even one book on this list makes you curious, READ IT. I have read most of them simply because I had a more diverse education than is taught in school today. But all of these books are still available and if someone deemed it worthy of banning, you should read it just because they don’t want you to.

And because TV is lowering your IQ just by being on when you’re in the same room with it.

A-Look-At-Banned-Books-By-Printerinks-screen-72dpi

Banned Book image by http://www.printerinks.com/

Book censorship in the United States.” Wikipedia.org. N.p. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org> 

sizer_bannedbooks_poster_web_by_paulsizer-d7zbvh0

Poster design is ©Paul Sizer/Sizer Design + Illustration

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