Monday, 29 June 2015

Party of Love: Friends, Food, Flowers, Music

In celebration of friendship and equal love, we friends gathered to enjoy each other's company. During that afternoon and night, various adventures were had, including the following (so far, just flowers; but wait - more will be added).



Touristing in Bay City

At Harless & Hugh in Bay City

Search Terms: Dogsitting Adventures

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Equal Marriage Celebration Cake

This is from last night's love-filled, musically-enhanced celebratory meal. xxoo (Yes, it's tiny. No, we couldn't finish it off. DELICIOUSLY rich.)

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Dogsitting Adventures, Summer 2015

Everyone's Napping.
Have I ever mentioned that being here is like being at Retreat? (Well, minus my beautiful peoples.)

2015.06.27. Lily and Thorn sleeping together

And now both are sleeping. :)
This is the morning life.
2015.06.27. 1378 Boxer Breakfast Guard

Afternoon Glory
Salad making is awesome.

2015.06.29 1382 Salad

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 23 June 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Tuesday June 23: Mostly Sunny And Breezy Today, High 78. Clear And Cool Tonight, Low...
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Love for Home

It just doesn't get better than this.

Saturday, 20 June 2015


We cannot all of us be equal while so many of us are not. Below the image is a very extensive reading list. Take advantage of it.

Ta-Nehisi Coates Explains History of Racism

* The Case for Reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates -
* How Racism Invented Race in America, Ta-Nehisi Coates -
* Slavery Made America, Ta-Nehisi Coates -
* Home Is Where the Hatred Is, Ta-Nehisi Coates -
* How to Steal Things, Exploit People, and Avoid All Responsibility,
Ta-Nehisi Coates -

Link List in Wake of Ferguson


Shameless Plugs

(mostly my reading lists)


* White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-civil Rights Era -
* Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of
Racial Inequality in America -
* White Racism: The Basics -
* Portraits of White Racism -
* The Everyday Language of White Racism -

Hashtag Section


A Reader

Confederate Flags and Institutional Racism
Charles M. Blow, New York Times
24 June 2015
We should move overt symbols of racial division to places like museums, where they can be displayed in proper context and where education is part of the mission. ... When do we move from our consensus over taking down symbols to the much harder and more important work of taking down structures? ... Institutional racism is often like a pathogen in the blood: You can’t see it; you have to test for it. But you can see its destructive effects as it sickens the host. Furthermore, institutional racism doesn’t require the enlisting of individual racists. The machine does the discriminating.

New York Times columnist and CNN commentator Mr Blow graduated magna cum laude from Grambling State University in Louisiana, where he received a B.A. in mass communications. Blow is author of Fire Shut Up In My Bones.

“They Were So Nice”: 4 Reasons I’ve Been Nice About Racism and Why I Won’t Be Anymore
Maisha Z. Johnson, 24 June 2015
It’s demeaning for me to have to approach someone with care for their feelings as I explain the terror of life as a black person in this country. ... Ever feel like this idea of rationality is some kind of trick? Hoops for people of color to jump through to prove we’re civilized creatures worthy of respect – because we should be able to keep calm while we’re violently losing our lives.
Racist people are not being kind when they dismiss my right to demand to stay alive. Racist systems are not being kind when they keep people of color in poverty, prison, and early graves. To say the least, being impolite in the face of all of this doesn’t take away from my worth. I’m done believing that being nice defines the value of persecuted people.

Maisha Z. Johnson is the founder of Inkblot Arts, a project to amplify voices through writing, editing, and facilitation. She has an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University and a BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Johnson is the author of Through Your Own Words: 51 Writing Prompts for Healing and Self-Care (Inkblot Arts 2014) and has also written a full-length collection of poetry, No Parachutes to Carry Me Home.

Confederate flag ‘debate’ is necessary, but black America still longs for real change
Lincoln Blades, The Grio
24 June 2015
Its proponents may say that I should take account of what the flag means to them, but I’m no more willing to do that than I am to question what level of nuanced pride Germans in the mid-twentieth century may have received from the swastika. ... And as I watch this debate evolve, I am filled with terror from one possible outcome: That we begin focusing so much on this Confederate flag issue that its removal becomes the context with which we gauge the lives lost in Emanuel AME church, while ignoring the far more pressing issues that are destroying the collective African-American community. ... Until we decide it’s important enough to confront the very real, systemic social ramifications of white supremacy, this debate will remain nothing more than a distraction with a false prize, meant to placate black rage while giving us the impression that we enacted change, when all we did was FINALLY agree to remove the white domestic terrorists’ loser-logo.

Lincoln Blades is founder at the critically acclaimed blog He is a writer, author, podcaster and public speaker. Blades wrote "You're Not A Victim, You're A Volunteer: How To Stop Letting Love Kick Your Ass".

#WakeUp: 7 Classic Revolutionary Reads for Black Millennials
Philip Jackson, The Root
24 June 2015

Friday, 19 June 2015

Charleston Shooting: A Reader

A roundup of perspectives, a profile of one of the victims, commentary, and related content,all topped off with a listing of the victims of the Charleston shooting. Again, I attempt to keep my voice asn those of other whites minimal.

Cynthia Hurd
Susie Jackson
Tywanza Sanders
Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor
Myra Thompson
Ethel Lance
Rev. Daniel Simmons

A friend of accused Charleston church shooter claims that the suspect had spoken about how he was angered by the uproar over the Trayvon Martin shooting and “wanted something to spark up the race war again.” Joey Meek recalled how Roof, 21, spoke about how he wanted segregation reinstated. “He said that he thought of the in general as a race was bringing down the white race,” Meek said. “He never said the n-word, he never made racial slurs, he never targeted a specific black person. He never did any of that so it was just pretty much a shock,” Meek said.

A note that the terrorist knew whom he was seeking to kill. "A relative of one of the nine people killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, said a survivor of the massacre told her the shooter entered the church asking to see the Rev. Clementa Pinckney. 'They showed him where he was and Clementa, being the kind-spirited person that he is, he had him [the shooter, identified as suspect Dylann Roof] sit next to him,' Sylvia Johnson, a cousin of the church's slain pastor, told ABC News today after speaking with one of the survivors who was in the church.

Charleston Shooting Victim Clementa Pinckney's Chilling Speech about Walter Scott
Adam Geller and Seanna Adcox, Associated Press (The Grio)
18 June 2015

"Clem was a well-spoken young man. He never raised his voice. He emulated, I guess we would say, the pastors that he came in contact with. He said he had a calling to help people. ... We take him as our little boy, even though he became…such a humble young man. You know you couldn’t help but love him. It hurts. It hurts."
-retired Rev. Thomas E. McClary

American Muslims Have a Race Problem
Zeba Khan, Al Jazeera
16 June 2015
Immigrants from the Middle East hail from a region whose slave trade commoditized at least 10 million Africans, particularly women, over millennia. Saudi Arabia and Yemen abolished slavery only in 1962, and today, there are frequent reports of abuse and exploitation of African and Asian domestic workers throughout the region.

Black Girl Dangerous wrote the following reaction validly lashing out at whites, who among others things have been trying to keep the spotlight on themselves and other whites.

Mia McKenzie is a writer who studied at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a black feminist whose work has won awards such as the Lambda Literary Award

'Things Fall Apart': On Mother Emanuel and White Terrorism
Kirsten West Savali, The Root
29 June 2015

We are a nation sick with racism, refusing to seek comprehensive treatment, and black people are disproportionately suffering because of it.

On the run and armed, the threat Roof posed wasn’t ‘perceived,’ as is the excuse typically given when innocent and unarmed black people are gunned down around the country by thugs with badges -- or men whose whiteness grants them the same freedom and authority to kill with impunity. Still, he was quietly captured 200 miles away in Shelby, North Carolina and escorted to a plane that transported him back to Charleston without a blonde hair on his head out of place. As usual, killing while white affords you protection and the presumption of innocence, while existing while black gets you killed.

True to form, a mainstream media complex crafted to perpetuate white supremacy has quoted family members describing Roof as “quiet and soft spoken” and his sadistic smile has been described by media as “baby-faced.” Just as insulting, Republican Governor Nikki Haley pulled out her best version of white tears as she led law enforcement on a victory lap for capturing the racist killer.

Let’s be clear: Haley’s commitment to flying a flag drenched in the blood, sweat and tears of enslaved Africans, and her stance that state hate crime legislation is not needed, proves that she doesn’t give a damn about the souls of black folks. To paraphrase Audre Lorde, her guilt does not serve us and she’s better off saving her tears for someone else, possibly the hypocritical white Christians who screamed #IAmCharlie in support of Islamophobic free speech, but have yet to declare #IAmCharleston.

The infestation of racism will continue to gnaw relentlessly at this country’s foundation—unnoticed by those not living within its margins and crevices—until things fall apart and it all comes down.

White Terrorism Is as Old as America
Brit Bennett, New York Times
19 June 2015

Media outlets have been reluctant to classify the Charleston shooting as terrorism, despite how eerily it echoes our country’s history of terrorism. American-bred terrorism originated in order to restrict the movement and freedom of newly liberated black Americans who, for the first time, began to gain an element of political power. The Ku Klux Klan Act, which would in part, lawmakers hoped, suppress the Klan through the use of military force, was one of America’s first pieces of antiterrorism legislation. When it became federal law in 1871, nine South Carolina counties were placed under martial law, and scores of people were arrested.

This is the privilege of whiteness: While a terrorist may be white, his violence is never based in his whiteness. A white terrorist has unique, complicated motives that we will never comprehend. He can be a disturbed loner or a monster. He is either mentally ill or pure evil. The white terrorist exists solely as a dyad of extremes: Either he is humanized to the point of sympathy or he is so monstrous that he almost becomes mythological. Either way, he is never indicative of anything larger about whiteness, nor is he ever a garden-variety racist. He represents nothing but himself. A white terrorist is anything that frames him as an anomaly and separates him from the long, storied history of white terrorism.

In America’s contemporary imagination, terrorism is foreign and brown. Those terrorists do not have complex motivations. We do not urge one another to reserve judgment until we search through their Facebook histories or interview their friends. We do not trot out psychologists to analyze their mental states. We know immediately why they kill. But a white terrorist is an enigma. A white terrorist has no history, no context, no origin. He is forever unknowable. His very existence is unspeakable. We see him, but we pretend we cannot. He is a ghost floating in the night.

Brit Bennett is a writer whose debut novel, “The Mothers,” is forthcoming from Riverhead Books.

1. White Topeka, Kan. Residents Find KKK Flyers on Their Property
Nigel Roberts, The Root
19 June 2015

2. Va. Man Threatens Richmond Churchgoers: ‘I’m Gonna Kill All You and All You Are Gonna Get Killed Tonight’
Breanna Edwards, The Root
19 June 2015

3. Inside the Mind of Dylann Roof: Alleged Racist Manifesto Reveals Deep Hatred of Blacks
Lynette Holloway, The Root
20 June 2015

A 2,000-word screed believed to be written by Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old accused shooter in the Charleston, S. C., church massacre, are the ramblings of a man with a deep-seated hatred toward blacks. The manifesto was discovered at through a Reverse Whois lookup on and is registered to Roof, Gawker reports.

"I have no choice," the author writes. "I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet (sic). Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me."

Lynnette Holloway is a journalist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author.


Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 19 June 2015

Blessed Juneteenth to All!

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Friday June 19: Sunny And Breezy Today, High 72. Partly Cloudy And Cool Tonight, Low...
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Friday, June 19, 2015

Cry, Little Cracker, Cry

The world doesn't revolve around you, whites. Black Lives Matter. Get over it.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

"Thought for the Day: Thursday 18th June 2015" (Re-Blogging Progressive Scotish Muslims)

Thought for the Day: Thursday 18th June 2015

"Even though [Ramadan] is a family and community based month, fasting is a singular act that is between the Muslim and God. In fact, the Qur'an makes clear that the act of hunger is solely to show submission and strengthen awareness of God. For me, a religious act should always be done willfully and my understanding of Islam is that it offers concessions to those who may find it difficult. I guess this is the spirit of the month of fasting. It comes with much to think about mentally and physically as we submit to God."
-Dr Amanullah De Sondy


Keep Calm amd Ramadan On!

Keep calm and Ramadan on!
on "time-warped" rainbow background, bordered with black, text in non-italicised French script font

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Queer Ramadan Mubarak!

A very queer Ramzan Mubarak to you, and much love besides.
on "time-warped" rainbow background, bordered with black, text in non-italicised French script font

Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 17 June 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Wednesday June 17: Mostly Sunny This Afternoon, High 78. Cloudy Tonight, Low 63. ...
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Wednesday, June 17, 2015

On Rachel Dolezal

It is often difficult for me to shut my white mouth. I specify "white" because white voices, including mine, are automatically amplified in our society. In this space, however, I am sitting down and shutting up, because I could never represent black people and their opinions on Rachel Dolezal.

Black Like Who? Rachel Dolezal’s Harmful Masquerade
Tamara Winfrey Harris, New York Times
16 June 2015
Tamara Winfrey Harris is the author of "The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America."
Racial identity cannot be fluid as long as the definition of whiteness is fixed. And historically, the path to whiteness has been extremely narrow. ... The original intent of [the one-drop rule] was to protect racial privilege. Sometimes, if their appearance borrowed enough from white ancestors, black Americans could “pass” in white society. But that social sleight of hand came with many dangers, such as the chance that black lineage would be outed in the skin or hair of one’s progeny. Segregation simply would not work if society was fuzzy on who got the nice drinking fountain, the front seat on the bus and the right to vote.
Ms. Dolezal may not be able to claim even a drop of African-American ancestry, but the way blackness has long been determined means that few would question a woman who presents as white but claims to be black. She was able to trade on a racist element of history to pass believably as a black woman.
In the days since this story broke, many people have been quick to point out that race is merely a social construct — as if that fact changes the very real impact of race on the lives of minorities. The persistence of systemic racism means there are penalties for blackness in America.
Being able to shift one’s race is a privilege. Ms. Dolezal’s masquerade illustrates that however much she may empathize with African-Americans, she is not one, because black people in America cannot shed their race. We cannot proclaim the black race a nebulous concept, while strictly policing whiteness and the privileges of that identity. I will accept Ms. Dolezal as black like me only when society can accept me as white like her.

The Rachel Dolezal Situation: Blackface, Appropriation and F*ckery, Oh My!
Mia McKenzie, Black Girl Dangerous
15 June 2015
Mia is a writer and queer black feminist who studied writing at the University of Pittsburgh. Mia's work has earned her the 2013 Lambda Literary Award.
I've heard some people saying that Rachel Dolezal didn't do any harm; and this isn't true. Black face is harm. To put blackness on as a costume and parade it around does harm to black people. In particular, what Rachel Dolezal has done is harmful to black women. We're not a costume. We are people, and our experiences ought to be respected - not put on like it's Halloween. ... Black face once is terrible. This woman made a life out of blackface.
No matter what white people do, we still humanise them. ... [W]e're supposed to make room for how they felt and what mental illness they may have had, even though we have no evidence of this. We're always humanising white people, whether they're going in blackface and pretending to be black women [or] they're shooting up a school, they always get to be human. They always get to be individuals; and we're always supposed to make room for that. ... No! Whereas black people never get to be human.

Link to Black Girl Dangerous article with embedded YouTube.

Mia rants a little on this whole Rachel Dolezal situation.
Posted by Black Girl Dangerous on Monday, June 15, 2015

Let's Not Question Blackness Because a White Woman Says So
Kirsten West Savali, Ebony
15 June 2015
Kirsten West Savali is a cultural critic and senior writer for The Root.
Most people who are entertaining this farce aren’t questioning Rachel Dolezal’s so-called blackness. Oh, no, her blackness is somehow deemed self-determination. Dolezal’s choice to be black has, instead, forced some black people to work through their own concept of blackness and how it should be defined. Because the white woman said so. ... In a society ravaged by colorism—where the aesthetic in closest proximity to whiteness is privileged over darker skin and kinkier hair—she hasn’t abandoned anything. Maybe she feels more privileged posing as what this racist society deems to be a superior black woman rather than living as a mediocre white one; she’s still benefiting from white supremacy either way. You can’t position yourself as a leader and lover of black people while exploiting our emotionally charged fractures at the same time. That’s not how this works.

The Infallibility of Miss Ann
(Or, the Last Rachel Dolezal Thinkpiece Ever)

Jamilah Lemieux, Ebony
15 June 2015
Jamilah Lemieux is an award-winning writer/editor and speaker who explores issues of race, gender and sexuality.
Dolezal's deception, which should be credited to both decent quality hair weaves and the privilege Black folks often afford to light-skinned women (even those that are intellectually and physically mediocre,) is at once an insult to Black women everywhere and a gift to the comedy gods.
Worse than Chappelle's "gotta hear both sides"-esque commentary, however, have been comments from folks on social media who think that “the work” Dolezal has done affords her some sort of pass or greater consideration. This is despite the fact that she has allegedly lived in Blackface for years and has occupied some of the few spaces of leadership afforded to Black people (NAACP chapter president, Africana studies professor.) I do not believe for a minute that this sort of consideration would be afforded to a White man who did what this woman has.
Rachel Dolezal is not an ally; she is not a champion of Blackness. And, reinvented as a light-skinned, light-eyed Black woman with a Howard degree, she was able to gain more access to Black cultural spaces than she would as a White lady who simply likes Black culture and Black men—and those women get a LOT of access.
Dolezal parodied Black womanhood for her own benefit, while allegedly telling other Whites they didn’t have space in the Black Lives Matter movement and, according a few folks claiming to be former students, had a curious way of addressing Black females and pale-skinned Latinos in her classes. Pretending to have our experiences and using them for her personal/professional gain is not “doing the work” and as far as I am concerned, it is unforgiveable anti-Blackness.

Friday, 12 June 2015

When Jesus Is Black

Meme: When Jesus Is Black

Image on dark brown background which bears text bubbles (TNR sized 40). Title of piece in white TNR font, sized 85. Image is screenshot from Revival! The Experience. More information below image.

Text Bubbles:
1. "Just following orders."
2. "He should have obeyed the law."
.3. "They're just doing their jobs."

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 11 June 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Thursday June 11: Sunny Today, High 78. Showers And Thunderstorms Tonight, Low 61. ...
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Thursday, June 11, 2015


Everything hurts.
It reminds me of Texas.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 10 June 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Wednesday June 10: Partly Sunny, Breezy And Warm Today, Showers And Thunderstorms...
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Hord Sharpar's Weather Post, 09 June 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Tuesday June 9: Partly Sunny Today, High 78. Showers And Thunderstorms Possible Tonight, Low 63. Partly Sunny And Windy Tomorrow, Showers And Thunderstorms Possible, High 82.
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Monday, 8 June 2015

Racism and Public Pools: The MicKinney, TX Edition

On Friday 05 June 2015, cops were called in to a community swimming pool after a white woman slapped a black youth after young people gathered for a birthday party objected to racist comments that the white woman made. While other cops comported themselves decently, one started charging the black youth from among the gathering. He pushed one young lady to the ground and straddled her, then pulled his gun on unarmed youth who attempted to come help the young lady. During the whole time, he swore profusely at the young people and shouted at them

The Dallas Morning News reports, "In the video, Casebolt can be heard yelling, 'On your face,' as he pushes the girl to the ground. As he leans on the girl, he points to others standing nearby and yells, 'Get out of here or you're going, too'" ("Pool party confrontation thrusts McKinney into spotlight on police and race relations," Tasha Tsiaperas and Claire Z Cardona, The Dallas Morning News, 07 June 2015).

The Atlantic has, as usual, a length and in-depth report that is worth reading. Some excerpts below:
McKinney, Texas, and the Racial History of American Swimming Pools
Yoni Appelbaum, The Atlantic
08 June 2015
In 2009, McKinney was forced to settle a lawsuit alleging that it was blocking the development of affordable housing suitable for tenants with Section 8 vouchers in the more affluent western portion of the city. East of Highway 75, according to the lawsuit, McKinney is 49 percent white; to its west, McKinney is 86 percent white. The plaintiffs alleged that the city and its housing authority were "willing to negotiate for and provide low-income housing units in east McKinney, but not west McKinney, which amounts to illegal racial steering."
All three of the city’s public pools lie to the east of Highway 75. Craig Ranch, where the pool party took place, lies well to its west. BuzzFeed reports that the fight broke out when an adult woman told the teens to go back to "Section 8 housing."
At their inception, communal swimming pools were public, egalitarian spaces. Most early public pools in America aimed more for hygiene than relaxation, open on alternate days to men and women. In the North, at least, they served bathers without regard for race. But in the 1920s, as public swimming pools proliferated, they became sites of leisure and recreation. Alarmed at the sight of women and men of different races swimming together, public officials moved to impose rigid segregation.
As African Americans fought for desegregation in the 1950s, public pools became frequent battlefields. In Marshall, Texas, for example, in 1957, a young man backed by the NAACP sued to force the integration of a brand-new swimming pool. When the judge made it clear the city would lose, citizens voted 1,758-89 to have the city sell all of its recreational facilities rather than integrate them. The pool was sold to a local Lions’ Club, which was able to operate it as a whites-only private facility.
The decisions of other communities were rarely so transparent, but the trend was unmistakable. Before 1950, Americans went swimming as often as they went to the movies, but they did so in public pools. There were relatively few club pools, and private pools were markers of extraordinary wealth. Over the next half-century, though, the number of private in-ground pools increased from roughly 2,500 to more than four million. The declining cost of pool construction, improved technology, and suburbanization all played important roles. But then, so did desegregation. As historian Jeff Wiltse argues in his 2007 book, Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America: "Although many whites abandoned desegregated public pools, most did not stop swimming. Instead, they built private pools, both club and residential, and swam in them …. Suburbanites organized private club pools rather than fund public pools because club pools enabled them to control the class and racial composition of swimmers, whereas public pools did not."
None of the adult residents shown in the video appeared to manifest concern that the police response had gone too far, nor that its violence was disproportionate to the alleged offense. To the contrary. Someone placed a sign by the pool on Sunday afternoon. It read, simply: "Thank you McKinney Police for keeping us safe."
The Dallas Morning News piece contains some more worthy tidbits, including a paragraph, below, about the city's history of racism and a section including activist statements, "Calls for Firing."
McKinney attracted national attention in 2004 after the Police Department’s tactics were called into question by the U.S. Department of Justice. Racial tensions between police and residents in an east-side neighborhood escalated following four execution-style slayings earlier in the year.
This all is perfectly in accordance with America's history of racism. The year 1919 in particular was notable for many violent white riots against black communities. Chicago's 1919 riot was actually sparked when some black youth went swimming in an area of the Lake Michigan shoreline that had been deemed "white." The book The Making of Urban America by Raymond A Mohl contains an acceptable section on the 1919 Chicago riot starting on p 187. Most of that chapter is available at Google Books. This racist tension hadn't fade by the era of the Civil Rights movement. Below are two photos of white violence against black swimmers at a St Augustine, Florida beach.

Here I unceremoniously end, being terribly bad at writing conclusions.


Return of Happiness?

You know, I brought a protein bar upstairs because I have been losing the desire to eat and was worried that I would simply skip supper. A surprise for me, though: I actually did grab some eggs and several vegetables and made an omelet. This morning, my interest in "my activities" has begun to return; and I have caught myself smiling spontaneously.

Oh, and I saw a bird in the bush. For real. It closely resembled a cactus wren, but I am in Michigan - not Arkansas. I also remember this bird being more brown, with less white. Here is an image of a cactus wren.

It might have been a form of thrush. Here is a photo of a song thrush.

It stayed right there in the lilac bush, looking at me while I cooed at how beautiful it was. :)

Re-Blog: "Student loans — to default or not?" by Kamal Fizazi

My friend Kamal Fizazi, who is an excellent writing, has tackled the issue of student loan debt on reading a New York Times article on the topic. His blog post, "Student loans — to default or not?", is here.

Some excerpts:

"Ensuring fair access to tertiary education is critical to the political health of a democracy. 40 million Americans face a whopping $1.2 trillion student debt load. This is not just a problem for the individual borrowers. Rising student debt risks undermining economic growth. Furthermore, an access model built on interest-bearing loans has clear racial implications, producing a disparate impact on minority access to higher education, while rising tuition costs also lead to a drop in diversity on campus. ... Other countries not only offer us insight into how to do things differently, they also offer cheaper alternatives. If things don’t improve, more US students may choose to get a free university education in Germany, and those intent on studying to become doctors without crippling debt could pursue their dreams by studying medicine in Cuba."

The image below is from Kamal's blog post; I am using it here for Facebook visibility purposes.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Maybe Everything Isn't Hopeless, After All

Content Note: mildly vulgar language

Image: Angry Stick Figure stands under rainbow on sunny day. Sun is smiling. Angry Stick Figure is smiling, waving arms, throwing pink confetti into air. Empty spaces in image filled with spirals, colon-plus-D smiley emoticons, line-drawn stars. Words arced (pronounced "arkt") over rainbow: "Maybe everything isn't hopeless bullshit."

Meme gifted by Kamal Fizazi.

Useful for the following:
* depression
* chemical dependency recovery
* others, upon suggestion

Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 07 June 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Sunday June 7: Morning Sun Gives Way To Cloudy And Windy Conditions This Afternoon,...
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Sunday, June 7, 2015

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 06 June 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Saturday June 6: Sunny And Breezy Today, High 72. Partly Cloudy Tonight, Low 50. ...
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Saturday, June 6, 2015

Friday, 5 June 2015

Early Summer Garden

The Sky Is Cloudy! I prefer taking photos in overcast conditions, so out I went with camera in hand.

2015.06.05. 12 noon 1244 Flower Bed: Bleeding Hearts, leaves from Iris plant, viola leaves, various wildflowers. Clicking this won't make anything magickal happen.

2015.06.05. 12 noon 1249 Emerging Pink Rose
This looks like a good photo. However, it is slightly more fuzzy than I like my close-up flower photos to be. I won't stop you from clicking it to see up close, though. :)

2015.06.05. 12 noon 1250 Emerging Friendship Rose. This photo is rather spectacular, and I certainly encourage clicking on it. If you think that the view is nice from here, you should see the details up close. Amazing stuff.

2015.06.05. 12 noon 1247 White Iris. My prize shot of the day. Click.

Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 05 June 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Friday June 5: Cloudy And Breezy Today, Isolated Showers, High 74. Gradual Clearing...
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Friday, June 5, 2015

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 04 June 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Thursday June 4: Partly Sunny This Afternoon, High 80. Partly Cloudy Tonight, Low 60. Cloudy And Breezy Tomorrow, High 74. Clearing Tomorrow Night, Low 50.
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 03 June 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Wednesday June 3: Sunny And Mild Today, High 77. Clear And Crisp Tonight, Low 52. Sunny Tomorrow, High Near 80. Partly Cloudy Tomorrow Night, Low 62.
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

This Day, Yes

So I enjoyed some aromatherapy this morning. Then I applied rose otto to my arms and put rosewater in my tea.

I love the smell of bleach in the morning. :)

Lunch: vegetarian sausage, toasted in olive oil with pancake syrup and sprinkled with chili power, wrapped in toasted whole wheat tortilla shells with cheese. I made my own Heaven. :) :)

AAUP Pours Antipathy onto Use of Trigger Warnings

Disappointing, in a sick-feeling-in-the-pit-of-the-stomach kind of way. This response reflects an all-or-nothing attitude and ignores the more moderate path of labelling trigger warnings and allowing those students who have survived trauma to take an alternate approach to the same course content.

Quoting from the article itself (I don't want to link to the article and grant the page even more views):
The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual.  It makes comfort a higher priority than intellectual engagement and—as the Oberlin list demonstrates—it singles out politically controversial topics like sex, race, class, capitalism, and colonialism for attention.  Indeed, if such topics are associated with triggers, correctly or not, they are likely to be marginalized if not avoided altogether by faculty who fear complaints for offending or discomforting some of their students.

Some discomfort is inevitable in classrooms if the goal is to expose students to new ideas, have them question beliefs they have taken for granted, grapple with ethical problems they have never considered, and, more generally, expand their horizons so as to become informed and responsible democratic citizens.   Trigger warnings suggest that classrooms should offer protection and comfort rather than an intellectually challenging education.  They reduce students to vulnerable victims rather than full participants in the intellectual process of education.  The effect is to stifle thought on the part of both teachers and students who fear to raise questions that might make others “uncomfortable.”

The classroom is not the appropriate venue to treat PTSD, which is a medical condition that requires serious medical treatment. Trigger warnings are an inadequate and diversionary response.
As someone who has survived trauma and lives with PTSD, I can assure the academic community that I would be eager to learn the course materials. While I am a college dropout and do not even have a bachelor's degree, I do have a brilliant mind. I keep up to date on various topics in academia - as well as in social justice movements: racial justice, modern slavery, gender studies, Islam. I can very easily visualise myself inside a college classroom.

If I were to be in a classroom and a reference to certain traumatic experiences were casually or randomly dropped into the course materials without prior notice, I would be triggered by that reference. For me and others like me, this goes beyond the usual "This is horrific! Can you *believe* that someone would *do* that?"

For those of us who live with PTSD, being triggered means that we re-live our traumatic experiences. We see, hear, smell, even feel the things that happened to us. We experience abject fear which needn't be based on any current situation. Some might become dissociative, others increasingly agoraphobic. Our symptoms can be psychosomatic: shaking, dizziness, even nausea. And these symptoms won't necessarily subside by the end of that day's class.

I myself would most certainly not be able to participate in an academic - or any other - setting for at least a couple of weeks. I will be experiencing those flashbacks for at least a day. They usually last for several days. I might well be shaking for several hours or possibly throughout the rest of the day. My dizziness would last for a few days afterwards. My nausea/gut pain is debilitating, leaving me keeled over in my bathroom throughout a day. The crowd-phobic aspect of my agoraphobia could well stick with me for several days to a few weeks. I will literally not be functional at an academic level for days or even weeks. One triggered onset which caused flares in my PTSD and another mental health condition with which I live left me incapacitated for two months.

We are not talking about mere "discomfort" here. We are talking about debilitating mental health symptoms which could, at worst, take one to the hospital. In an era in which we have become more enlightened regarding the accommodation of people with other disabilities, it is now time to update our thinking and behaviour with regard to PTSD - a real mental health condition. Where we make seating accommodating for those with limited mobility or provide equipment and human resources to assist the hard-of-hearing or those with visual impairments, we need to provide accommodations to our students who have survived trauma and/or live with PTSD. To refuse to do so would be akin to keeping flowering plants in the classroom when a person who has COPD is in the room, or insisting that a student with diabetes participate in a project which involved ingesting something with a high carbohydrate content. In other words, the attitude of the AAUP is outdated and frankly insulting.

Surely the negative impact on a person's academic success, detailled above, isn't worth an outdated approach to mental illness and an hyperbolic approach to the topic of trigger warnings. It truly is worth it to listen to the voices of those who are survivors of trauma and those who live with PTSD and to be responsive to us. My own advice is to use Trigger Warnings and/or Content Notes. THESE NEEDN'T LEAD TO ACADEMIC CENSORSHIP. All that I myself ask is that they be included, and that the professor be willing to work with a student over a reasonable amount of time to find alternative ways to learn the desired objectives. In many cases, just knowing that a potentially triggering subject will arise in class that day or in some reading materials assigned to the class is enough for me. I can brace myself for it and be much less prone to being triggered.

In that case, not an iota of censorship would take place. Even in the former scenario, the same materials could be used but approached in a way that is not triggering to the survivor student. Potentially, everyone would be happy: the professor would not have to self-censor; and the student would be able to learn the desired content without becoming ill as a result.

Howward Sharper's Weather Post, 02 June 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Tuesday June 2: Sunny And Mild Today, High 70. Clear And Cool Tonight, Low 48. Sunny...
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Tuesday, June 2, 2015