sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
As promised/threatened, here are a buttload of pictures from the road trip [personal profile] the_axel and [personal profile] the_siobhan and I took to POW Camp 30 in Bowmanville. For reference, this is about an hour's drive from Toronto. It's a former school for delinquent boys that was converted into a POW camp during World War II. It's since fallen to ruin, squatters, and graffiti artists—which tbh makes it approximately 10,000x more awesome from the point-of-view of a photographer or aspiring author of post-apocalyptic fiction—despite being guarded by surveillance cameras and one intimidating as hell pre-recorded loudspeaker message.

There are No Trespassing signs all over the place, but let's be honest; if they wanted to keep people out, they'd put some barbed wire or guards around. We ran into two other people wandering around the premises who had the same idea we did.

Narrowing down which pictures to show you folks was brutal—I hope you appreciate that I got it down to around 20 from over 100. (Okay, so more because Photobucket has ceased to work for me and DW's image hosting is brutal, but also to spare your browsers.

camp 30
+22 )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
it can't happen hereSince no one else has finished their three YA books yet, I get to read adult books until they're done. Yay! I just finished It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, and I have a lot of feels, and need to talk about it.

You may have heard of it as "that dystopian novel written in 1935 that suddenly ended up on the bestseller list again because it predicted Trump's presidency." It is, basically, that—written to warn Americans, well before WWII, about the dangers of fascism in a populist mask. It's not the only such book, but there's something particularly resonant in it—probably because the weird-looking, jovial, outsider president is just so very Cheeto Benito that it's deeply chilling to read.

I also very much related to the protagonist, despite the fact that he's completely a liberal who complains at great length about how the Marxists are a bit shit. (I have to say, as a commie myself, the book's scathing portrayal of communists is pretty much accurate.) This guy has to be one of my favourite dystopian fiction protagonists, as he really just wants to be left alone to sleep in, get laid, and read proper literature, but people keep being fascist at him so he has to actually go out and fight. That's me in a nutshell, or would be before Netflix was invented.

It does pretty well on gender—again, 1935, just in case you're ever inclined to write off a lack of interesting and complex female characters in a book as a product of its time—there are multiple overtly feminist women, one of whom gets to kick way more ass than any of the male characters. It's worse on sexual orientation, if only because the only prominent queer character is based on Ernst Röhm and meets a similar fate (it's unknown whether the writing of the book was completed before the Night of the Long Knives, but one doesn't have to be all that prescient to guess at what happens to people like Röhm under fascist regimes, or Milo Yiannopoulos, for that matter).

At any rate, I was absolutely engrossed and if you want a likely portrait of what the next four years will bring, give this book written over 80 years ago a read. And never sleep again.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (the doctor dances)
This may seem like a strange thing for an admitted enthusiast of post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction to admit, but I rather wish there were more science fiction stories about institutions that actually worked versus institutions that were one crisis away from shipping off half the populace to concentration camps. Even if the latter sorts of institutions are the ones that we actually have, the result is an individualist narrative where humans in large groups inevitably behave in terrible ways and that the only people capable of saving us are inherently more powerful and special than the downtrodden masses.

jetlagged fanwank, mostly about Torchwood )

Also, I can't get over how awful the acting is. Was I just spoiled by watching Treme or can absolutely no one on that show act?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
Royson James has a scary article that summarizes a bunch of our Honourable Wife-Beating, Drunk-Driving Mayor's terrible ideas that are going to "transform," and by "transform," he means "screw over," Toronto.

I just can't get over how malicious so many of these plans are. Eliminating bike lanes on Jarvis was bad; eliminating them in Scarborough is nothing but a brutal and vicious attack on the urban poor. (Of course, Jarvis has got all the attention and protests. Of course.) Now he wants to cut subsidized child care and sell off seniors' homes, lay off city workers, and—this is particularly rich in a city that recently saw a spate of arsons as developers embark on their mission to gentrify the downtown core and turn all the neat neighbourhoods into condos—lay off firefighters. I'm actually fine with cutting cops, since we have too many and they get paid too much, but you know that won't happen in the end.

Instead, Ford will continue to demonstrate his inability to do basic math, as he did when he scrapped the cheap, practical Transit City plan in favour of a pie-in-the-sky dream of a few more subway stations that will never actually happen. This is a guy who thinks he can balance the budget by buying his own paperclips in his office.

I know I'm preaching to the converted, but we pay taxes and spend money on civic infrastructure for a reason. It's a good reason. Cities don't run themselves. Even communities, no matter how strong and vibrant, don't run themselves. I'm pretty sure if you laid off city garbage workers, Yorkville and Church and Wellesley and the Danforth and Rosedale would not descend into filthy dystopias; the neighbourhood BIAs would take care of it like they did during the garbage strike. I don't think that would happen in Malvern, Jane and Finch, Regent Park, or Rexdale, though. And once public transit is unusable and bike lanes are gone, the traffic jams and longer commuting times will eventually affect Ford's base of NIMBYs in Etobicoke. I'd say that I hope Ford Nation chokes on its own smog and filth, but you know they'll just move to the 905 when things get genuinely uncomfortable here, leaving the rest of us to fester in a broken city that will take decades to rebuild.

Watching City Hall bluster and batter its way through municipal politics as it turns Toronto the Good into Toronto the Fuck You, I've Got Mine is like watching a slow-motion train wreck. Except despite everyone's commentary just after the election where the chattering class was convinced that Ford wouldn't cooperate with anyone else on council and find himself isolated and impotent, it's actually a faster-than-expected train wreck.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (keep calm and shoot them in the head)
Go look at your blog/journal. Find the last Fandom-related thing you posted. The characters in that post are now your team-mates in the Zombie Apocalypse. How fucked are you?

Yep, the last fictional characters I posted about were from Treme. I have nothing to worry about. Even the least badass character on that show would just roll their eyes and keep going in the face of a zombie apocalypse.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
The RCMP have invaded Mohawk territory, arresting 38 people. The reason for the incursion? Pot dealing. Just as a reality check, 13.3% of Ontarians smoke weed regularly. 36% of adults between 18-29 smoke weed. Generally, police here don't care if you smoke or deal weed as long as you're white.

So maybe, maybe, there is something going on at the Rez besides a case of reefer madness. I didn't actually have to do any research. That's not the pot that's making you paranoid: Harper's actually targeting indigenous Canadians.

Information obtained by the First Nations Strategic Bulletin through Access to Information requests reveals that almost immediately upon Harper’s taking power in 2006, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) was given the lead role to spy on First Nations. The goal was to identify the First Nation leaders, participants and outside supporters of First Nation occupations and protests, and to closely monitor their actions.


Expect more of this now that spiteful, racist Canadian voters have given Harper a mandate to trample on the self-determination and human rights of the First Nations.

Meanwhile, closer to home, our Honourable Drunken Wife-Beating Mayor is tossing the idea of branding public parks with corporate names. Now the TTC may also be following suit. In a way, you know, I look forward to this. It's very cyberpunk. I can't wait until Toronto is turned into a neon-noir dystopia, like the Manhattan of my imagination, with giant billboards awash in acid rain. Oh wait.

If you';re wondering what Canadians can do to help dissident movements in the Middle East, the answer is: Not this. Yeah, a Guelph company called Netsweeper makes sure that when the citizens of Yemen get too uppity, their internet gets turned off. Best quote:

“It’s no doubt a great market opportunity for them,” said Ronald Deibert, who heads the Citizen Lab, which examines human rights in the digital era, at the Munk School of Global Affairs.


Yes, that Munk.

I hate this country.
sabotabby: (teacher lady)
This post made me sick to my stomach. It's about a gay kid whose parents had her violently kidnapped in the middle of the night and brought to a brainwashing camp where she was abused in an attempt to turn her into some sort of Stepford wife. WWASP and Cross Creek, the facility at which this child was tortured, are apparently real things, as is the horrifyingly named Teen Escort Service. These are for-profit companies that are, unbelievably, allowed to operate.

If half of the allegations in that post are true, how are these places allowed to operate legally? Can't we round up the owners and operators of these places and put them in our own re-education camps or something?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (she)
There are days that I feel that gradual, transitional change is possible, that we can reason our way into a better world, that the force of persistent activism, voting, lobbying, boycotts, and letter-writing will achieve, through peaceful means, what one typically aims to achieve through violent revolution.

This is not one of those days.

Because in our supposed democracy, most workers, in theory, have the right to organize in a trade union. It's kind of a basic human right in a civilized and free society. There's a grueling process involved in getting said trade union officially recognized that, in practice, tends to marginalize grassroots (read effective) unions and that ties the hands of business unions, but nevertheless, in theory, the right to unionize exists.

Unless, of course, you do shitty, demeaning, exhausting labour under horrible conditions. Then, according to the highest court in the country, you're pretty much screwed.

The reasoning is truly moronic:

Agriculture has long been a sore point with the labour movement. They have been critical of successive governments for sympathizing with arguments from employers that their operations are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of collective action.

They contend that family farms cannot withstand the ill effects of strikes or other work action, and that the short planting and harvesting seasons can be easily devastated by a work stoppage.


In short: Work action is illegal for farm workers because it might actually be effective.

From 2000-2010, 33 migrant farm workers in Ontario alone have died on the job. Another 1,129 were sent home because of on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Farmworkers work 12-15 hour days without overtime or holiday pay, are frequently forced to use toxic chemicals without adequate training or protection, and are excluded from basic human rights' protection. (And more; see Justicia For Migrant Workers' website.)

The idea of the idyllic family farm is also a misnomer. A family might own a farm, sure, but most farms employ a number of the most severely oppressed workers in the country. From the same Globe article:
The mushroom workers case provided the labour movement with a worst-case scenario it hoped could lead to a constitutional breakthrough.

Workers at the plant – which has been sold since the dispute began – alleged that they were kept in a state of fright and intimidation, warned repeatedly that attempting to organize a union would cost them their jobs.

Pitting a group of immigrant workers who worked gruelling hours in conditions they described as horrendous and humiliating, the case revolved around a Rol-Land Farms facility near Windsor, Ont. Workers alleged that it was dark, mouldy and cockroach-infested.

About 300 workers, who had immigrated from countries such as Cambodia and Sudan, harvested the crop, were referred to by numbers and banned from speaking any language but English.


A far cry from Old McDonald and his sheep. We're talking large-scale industrial operations here. (Even if we weren't—does a small employer have more right to violate the human rights of his workers than a large corporation?)

The Supreme Court is as high as a legal challenge can go. They've all but sanctioned indentured servitude. I'm no legal expert, but I think that actually puts us in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pity international law has no teeth.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (design)
New and exciting blog the Eschatologist has an interesting and charmingly non-judgmental article on the redesign of the Left Behind novels and what the new covers say about how pop culture imagines apocalypse(s).

left behind old and new covers

Aesthetically, I like the new typography—much more modern, fun, and refreshing. The old covers had an extremely formal design, with the horrible faux-stone 3D effect on the serif type. This made the apocalypse seem like a done deal, to be honest, which robbed the novels of any sort of suspense that their protagonists might, you know, actually lift a finger to attempt to struggle against evil rather than calmly waiting out the Tribulation. Also, the type on the old covers looked too much like a movie poster, which is presumptuous.

Image-wise, I am split. The photos for Left Behind, Soul Harvest, Appolyon, Assassins, The Indwelling, The Mark, and Glorious Appearing are clear improvements. Tribulation Force's new cover is terrible. It looks like a dull book on American policy in the Middle East. No one wants to see photos of faces on the covers of trade fiction books. It is simply Not Done.

The cover of the original edition of Nicolae is terrible—the new one is a much better photo, artistically speaking—but I agree with the Eschatologist that it kind of screws with the meaning. Carpathia is not supposed to look like an old Soviet bureaucrat. For fuck's sake. The original one is a terrible composition but at least it keeps the whole Antichrist-as-charming-visionary aesthetic.

I disagree with the Eschatologist on the cover of Assassins. I don't disagree that it's racist as fuck. It is definitely racist as fuck. It's prettier, though. The original looks like a Clancy cover.

I can't make up my mind on Desecration. Personally, I'm just not sure a book with dead fish on the cover will sell. Who is their target market, exactly? Does this target market like dead fish floating in blood and, more importantly, are they likely to either buy it to put on their bookshelves or give it as a gift? "Just what I wanted for Christmas, Aunt Maude! A book about dead fish floating in blood." Whereas on the old cover, it's clear that the Antichrist is rising and means business, and they manage to get this impression across without dead fish floating in blood. I'm just sayin'.

Both of the covers for The Remnant suck. Come on, book designer! This is a series about the end of the world—you really couldn't find a better photo to use?

The old cover for Armageddon is the clear winner. As a book designer, if I'm given the choice to show the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or a helicopter flying over an explosion, I'm going to choose the former every time, if only because the movie Live Free Or Die Hard is pretty much the end of the story in terms of illustrating helicopters and explosions. Also, horses are cool.

left behind,books,cover design
What Would Sabotabby Do?

Both covers for Glorious Appearing are a bit shit, mostly because they missed the boat. That's the book where Jesus comes back and shoots laser beams out of his eyes and burns all of the sinners in a pit of lava (sorry, I guess that was a spoiler). That is the sole reason why anyone would pick up the book, to read about Jesus with laser beams shooting out of his eyes, and you're telling me that the designer couldn't be arsed to put that scene on the cover? What. A. Waste.

left behind,books,cover design
There, I fixed it.

I really like the new clock graphic, too. Subtle, Tyndale. Very subtle.

Still, this would be a very difficult book design project, both because a designer would have to actually read the books and also if you don't do a good job, Jesus will kill you with his laser eye-beams, so I doff my hat to the person tasked with this endeavour.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (glenn beck)
I guess everyone has seen this video of Glenn Beck trying to explain Operation Payback to his viewing audience:



[Sorry, I can't find a transcript. I am going to do my best to post transcripts for any video I post; consider it a New Year's resolution.]

The thing that gets me, beyond that Glenn Beck has not heard of D&D, is that the entire narrative framework here is so over-the-top. I mean, just look at the players: Assange (Chaotic Neutral*, and ripped right from the pages of the Millennium Trilogy), Bradley Manning (Lawful Good turned Chaotic Good), 4chan (Chaotic Neutral turning into Chaotic Good before our eyes), and Beck (Lawful Evil. I want to say Chaotic Evil but his utter irrationality is not actually relevant in this particular conflict.) The conflict here is at a global level, a life-and-death struggle, both for individuals and for nations. But at the same time, let's admit it, it's a bit cartoonish, you know?

Meanwhile, just outside the centre of the empire, my life is pretty stable, so it makes reading the news a bit surreal. Everything we conspiracy theorists on the left have speculated was true actually is, everyone is finding out about it, and—like I've always said about the conspiracy narrative—not doing anything about it.

I just read one of those insufferable books about the future (The Pirate's Dilemma by Matt Mason), which seems hilariously outdated less than three years after its publication. It predicts a hypercapitalist libertarian utopia of youth nanocultures that will somehow result in a fairer, more just world. I think the idea of nanocultures has actually come and gone. Meanwhile, I edited a book last weekend that started out as a grim dystopia marked by paranoia and omnipresent surveillance, and it seemed less like a cautionary tale and more like a story about present-day London.

The things we thought were kind of silly two years ago are accepted fixtures of reality now. Think of Bruce Schneier's TSA contests; many of the hilarious security measures that readers proposed are now in place in American airports. Howard Beale's sociopathic clone is allowed on TV to rant, and, like his less-colourful fictional counterpart, is ridiculously popular amongst the sorts of people who still watch things on the TV.

Goddamn it, I know I've made this complaint before, but won't someone think of the near-future dystopic fiction writers? We can't write that fast.

* He'd get a promotion to Chaotic Good were it not for the rape accusations. It is totally possible to be a hero in one area and a villain in another. I mean, Gandhi slept naked with 13-year-old girls and was penpals with Hitler.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fridge)
Here's a reason to be vegetarian.

Macrophotography of processed meat.

Warning: Nightmare fuel. No, seriously. It is like the opposite of the mille crêpe in terms of things you would want to stick in your mouth.

(Confidential to [livejournal.com profile] snarkitysnarks: If you want a homework break, you can check out the macrophotography of insects, if you haven't already.)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (doomsday)
[livejournal.com profile] thegiantkiller posted a sweet apocalyptic music mix, which I happily downloaded.

But, you know, you can never have too much post/apocalyptic music, so without further ado, allow me to present:

Photobucket
Post-Apocalypso: A Spooky October Music Mixtape

Download all 32 songs here!

track list under the cut )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
They still haven't put many of the garbage cans back.

For me, the lack of garbage cans are a more poignant symbol than the fence, or the hippies being teargassed for singing Kumbaya. Without garbage cans on the sidewalks, private space remains untouched, but public space becomes filthy and unlivable. Garbage cans are the mark of the public service, of civility, of, dare I say it, the social contract itself.

It occurs to me that there are a lot of people who would be happy to live in a police state. Right up until the knock on the door in the middle of the night, they would assume protection because they'd done nothing wrong. They might even delight in the persecution of the Other.

But no one wants to live without garbage cans on the sidewalks. No one.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fighting the man)
Well, the cops have lost it. They're just arresting everyone. Journalists, passersby, even children! One boy was sent out by his mom to buy milk and arrested because he didn't have ID.

Here are some links from [livejournal.com profile] writer_grrrrl, from her fantastic round-up.

Eyewitness accounts of police brutality.

The 5 most important videos from the G20. You won't see these on TV because they just keep showing the same loop of the burning cop car.

Conditions for detainees at 629 Eastern Ave are illegal, immoral and dangerous. (Trigger warning.)

I don't know how many of my friends have been arrested—most have checked in, but out of 900 people, it's pretty certain that I know a lot, especially since they were targeting community organizers. [livejournal.com profile] frandroid and Firoza, whom I spent most of Saturday with, were among those arrested. They have since been released. [livejournal.com profile] frandroid has a brief update here.

In a darkly funny twist, they've arrested quite a few people who clearly aren't on the side of the protesters. Conservative nutbag Sammy Katz was reportedly detained (though he denies the rumour on his Twitter feed), as were two photographers for the National Post. The sheer number of journalists, including reporters for Reuters and the Guardian, who were arrested bodes well for better coverage than we've been getting.

Locals can help by attending today's rally at 5:30 in front of the Toronto Police headquarters at 40 College St. W. Please come if you can. I know I've been reporting all sorts of terrifying stories about beatings and arrests, but we need to show them that we're not intimidated and that we won't stand for living under martial law.

[livejournal.com profile] tanyahp asked what internationals can do. Prime Minister Harper is tarring us all as "thugs" and is pleased at the G20's success. You can tell him otherwise at pm@pm.gc.ca. Our mayor, David Miller, gets some points for demanding compensation from Ottawa, but he needs to work harder to pressure police into releasing the detainees, dropping charges, and ordering a full investigation of police conduct. He can be reached at mayor_miller@toronto.ca. Our Premier, Dalton McGuinty, is responsible for the hastily drafted regulations that allowed a massive expansion of police powers. He's at dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org. You can drop police chief Bill Blair a line at 416-808-8000. Send strongly worded letters. Tell them that the world is watching.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
Conflicting reports about a police raid on the Toronto Community Mobilization Network's convergence space, which turned out to be false, though there is still a police presence. At one point, demonstrators were blocked in and detained by police, but then let go. Rumours of rubber bullets being used near UofT. (For non-Hogtowners, neither the convergence space nor UofT is nowhere near where the summit was happening.) About 150 people have apparently been arrested doing strike support for the workers at Novotel.

The UofT Graduate Student Union was raided. The house of a young couple was raided at 4 am by armed police—the victims had nothing whatsoever to do with the protests. Two people were arrested at a solidarity rally at the detention centre on Eastern Ave.


Peaceful protesters boxed in by police at Queen and Spadina today.

[livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid gives us a poetic explanation.

Now, everything's quiet again. I went with [livejournal.com profile] bcholmes and S. to see Cherry Orchard at the Shaw Festival—it was awesome and I so needed to get out of the city. As we came back along the highway, we saw the motorcade taking the G2O delegates to the airport. Someone made or rented a gigantic billboard that read: "G-20: Go jump in the lake."

I am completely exhausted. It's over at last. Well, it isn't, because there are still people in jail or who have been charged who need our support, and there's still all sorts of disinformation in the media that needs to be countered, but for now I am a sleepy [livejournal.com profile] sabotabby who needs to sleep.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (iCom by starrypop)
I would be remiss in my duties if I did not share with you all From This Swamp: Lovecraftian and Dystopian Music. You can download entire albums of spooky shit. A lot of it is punk and black metal, but there are some quirkier selections.

Particularly good:

Atomic Platters: Cold War Music From the Golden Age. Loltastic songs in a variety of genres, many of which are about Joe McCarthy or Joe Stalin.

Salah Ragab and Cairo Jazz Band. Egyptian jazz with an emphasis on drums. Very beautiful.

Tom Waits: Black Rider Demos. Very different from the version that you should already own.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (kittylove)
This Is Why I'll Never Be an Adult.

Except I'm not blond. But otherwise, this is my life, internets!
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (doomsday)
I am overall against capital punishment, but I make an exception in one particular circumstance: when an individual holds a leadership role in a regime that has committed unforgivable crimes against humanity. I don't believe in executing such individuals as retribution or deterrent, but as collective catharsis. One can't hang every fascist. The foot soldiers of an oppressive and anti-human regime, those too cowardly to do anything but follow orders, must generally be reintegrated with society after the regime falls, which is why torture victims in Chile at church or the grocery store sometimes look over and see their former tormentors, untouched and untroubled by the law. Thus, the society is justified in beheading the king to destroy what he represents. Mussolini got what he deserved; Pinochet ought to have. In this instance there is no chance of executing an innocent person; the condemned has already proudly declared his guilt. This is the sole circumstance under which I believe a state has the right to take a life of an individual.

I bring this up because states matter less and less these days, when we're really under the rule of gods. Don't worry, I haven't suddenly turned religious on you—I refer, of course, to immortal legal persons, to corporations. There ought to be a category of international law, similar to crimes against humanity, to represent crimes against the planet and crimes against future generations.

You can't throw BP in prison, that's all I'm saying. They used to hang horse thieves—much easier to replace a man than a horse. And it would be impossible to replace the Great Barrier Reef. There isn't punishment enough in the world to fit what these greedy bastards have done.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
It's not paranoia if they really are watching you.

Hey, not that it comes as a surprise or anything. At this point I wouldn't be surprised at anything these bastards did.

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