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the indescribable moments of your life
30 January 2015 @ 02:38 pm
 
 
 
the indescribable moments of your life
28 May 2009 @ 04:15 pm
Not dead. Yet.

Got home from Boston and almost immediately fell prey to horrible, evil stomach virus of wickedness. Spent all day yesterday rolling around in feverish, dehydrated agony.

I do feel quite a bit better now (yesterday I was too ill to even use the computer), but I still don't want to do anything except sleep. Which I will now do.
 
 
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the indescribable moments of your life
I do this every year, so bear with me.



On May 1st, 2009, let's take a moment to honor some of the folks who gave their lives to help all of us have 8-hour workdays. I certainly enjoy not being at work for 12 or 14 hours at a time, and I'm sure you do too.

On May 1st, 1886, trade unions organized a cooperative general strike in support of the movement for the 8-hour-day. Hundreds of thousands of people struck peacefully in cities all around the country, including in Chicago (the heart of the labor movement at that time) where Albert Parsons and his wife and children led a march of 80,000 people to support the strike.

On May 3rd, 1886, there was a skirmish between picketers, strikebreakers and police outside a Chicago plant. Although the general strike had been peaceful so far, at the end of the workday the striking workers tried to confront the plant's scabs and the police fired on them. Two of the workers were killed.

The Chicago anarchists mobilized to get people to rally against this act of anti-labor police violence and printed thousands of fliers asking people to gather (peacefully) at Haymarket Square.

On May 4th, the rally was held. August Spies spoke to the assembly.

August Spies, May 1, 1886: "There seems to prevail the opinion in some quarters that this meeting has been called for the purpose of inaugurating a riot... However, let me tell you at the beginning that this meeting has not been called for any such purpose. The object of this meeting is to explain the general situation of the eight-hour movement and to throw light upon various incidents in connection with it."

Despite the calm and peaceful atmosphere, the police ordered the crowd to disperse (contrary to the orders of the mayor of Chicago, who had observed the nonviolent proceedings and gone home because it was apparent nobody wanted to cause any trouble). Without provocation the police began to advance against the marchers, heavily armed.

Someone threw a pipe bomb which landed near the police line and detonated, killing one policeman, Mathias Degan. The police line opened fire on the workers. Several were killed and dozens more injured, with many of those who were hit not wanting to go to hospitals for fear of being arrested. Several policemen were also shot - mostly by friendly fire.

Anonymous police officer: "A very large number of the police were wounded by each other's revolvers. ... It was every man for himself, and while some got two or three squares away, the rest emptied their revolvers, mainly into each other."

Days later, eight anarchist organizers of the workers' march were arrested and charged with the murder of the dead policeman. Their names were August Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Louis Lingg, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden and Oscar Neebe. Although the court could not connect even one of these individuals with the thrown bomb - and there were witnesses who testified that none of the men had been involved and Spies had actually been on a stage when the bomb was thrown - seven out of eight were sentenced to death, and one was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The prosecution insisted that they were responsible for the death of the slain officer because they had incited the crowd to riot.

While the anarchists were held up as labor heroes around the world, the mainstream media began to paint them (and by connection, other labor organizers) as variously "arch counselors of riot, pillage, incendiarism and murder," "bloody brutes", "red ruffians", "dynamarchists", "bloody monsters", "cowards", "cutthroats", "thieves", "assassins", and "fiends."

Two sentences were eventually commuted to life, and Lingg committed suicide, but on November 11th 1887 Spies, Engel, Fischer and Parsons were taken to a public gallows and hanged to death before a crowd of spectators.

Before August Spies dropped, he shouted "There will come a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today."

On June 26, 1893, Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld granted full pardons to the three surviving men, claiming they were innocent of the crime for which they had been tried. He said the hanged men had also been innocent and were the victims of "hysteria, packed juries and a biased judge." This act marked the end of his political career.

American workers did not win the general right to an 8-hour day until the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Remember these men and how they died. They died fighting. At this time it was an insane idea to work only eight hours a day, but now we take it as a given. It wasn't given, it was won through the power of men and women who wrote and organized and fought and struck and rallied. Most Americans don't even know who they were, or the decades of struggle that led us to get to go to work at 9 and leave at 5. I'm thankful for what they did for us.

Above all, remember that you DON'T have to accept things the way they are. The power of the people can change anything.
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the indescribable moments of your life
I spent this evening reading Captain Trips, the first arc of Marvel's Stephen King's The Stand. Now, I love the novel and was incredibly dubious about the transition that something so dense and detailed could possibly make to a simplified format like a comic book, but so far I've been pleasantly surprised.

That said, I wonder if I'm not just enjoying it because I have read the novel. I'm not at all unbiased. I can't tell if the comic is good as a standalone, or if it only makes sense to me because my Stephen-King-soaked hippocampus can fill in the multitude of little bits that aren't there. In that respect, it's rather like a graphic companion to the book instead of a work of its own, and I don't know if that's what was intended. It's incredibly sparse compared to the source, I really can't see someone becoming attached to the characters if this is their only exposure to the story. There's just so much there, and I don't know if the jumping-around style of narrative prose (focusing on one character, then rapidly shifting to another) works with the comic so well as it worked in the text.

So basically I can't decide if it's good or not. I think it's good, but I don't know what someone unfamiliar with the source would make of it. I like it. I hope it gets more people to read the book.

(The art, incidentally, is fabulous. I have absolutely no complaints about the visual elements. Many of the settings and characters are very close to what I saw in my head the first time I read The Stand, especially the astonishing portrayal of Flagg. Mike Perkins has totally knocked it out of the park and I'm going to pick up some of his other work.)
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the indescribable moments of your life
Yesterday evening (after the aforementioned margaritas) I was discoursing expansively to Patrick on the topic of why I refuse to pursue academic works about fandom, even though I look at my experiences in fandom as the greatest anthropological participatory fieldwork of my whole life. I entered into the conversation by telling him how, as an anthropologist, I was really fascinated by some key differences between Harry Potter fandom, which is my "home" fandom as it were, and Watchmen fandom. He thinks it's sort of a wasted opportunity if I don't put my wealth of useless fandom knowledge to some kind of end goal. My main personal arguments against doing so are such - I tried to recreate these as I said them (i.e. slightly full of tequila).

1: "Fandom is like Narnia. You have to seek it out on your own, and then it's like opening a door to this huge and always-developing community you never knew about before, real new emerging communities and just as valid as any other social group with their own language and collective knowledge and their own subgroups and taboos and ways of doing things. But you have to find it yourself, because inevitably if you try to explain it to someone who's never had the urge to seek it out, you wind up sounding kind of insane."

2: "I mean, I'm a nerd, say it loud and proud, but at the same time I wouldn't be interested in working academically on anything other than slash fandoms and I don't necessarily want my cohort to know what I do in my spare time and daydreams, yknow?"

3: "Every time fandom skims the surface of mainstream culture, problems happen. I mean, two summers ago Livejournal got tons of people thinking that Harry Potter fandom is full of pedophiles. It's like the first rule of Fight Club. Fandom's been underground since people had to walk uphill both ways to get their Star Trek slash zines!"

In tribute to what a good partner he is, he patiently listened to me babble about this for over an hour and also asked pertinent questions. This was not the first time I have drunkenly rambled about fandom, alas.
 
 
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